George Russell believes he could have challenged Max Verstappen for victory in Qatar Grand Prix

Qatar circuit F1 (

Qatar circuit F1 (

Mercedes Formula 1 driver George Russell is convinced that he had the potential to challenge Max Verstappen for victory in the 2023 Qatar Grand Prix, had it not been for his Turn 1 collision with Lewis Hamilton.

Russell began the 57-lap race at the Losail Circuit from second place, but a strong start by his teammate Hamilton, who started third on soft tires, brought them side by side into the first corner. Hamilton attempted to pass around the outside but made contact with Russell, sending him into a spin. Russell was forced to pit and then fought his way back to fourth place in the hot and humid conditions.

Reflecting on the race, Russell expressed his belief that he could have been a contender for the win had the crash not occurred, stating, “I see no reason why not.” He also noted that he believed their pace was as fast as, if not faster than, McLaren, who achieved a double podium with Oscar Piastri finishing ahead of Lando Norris. The closeness of Piastri’s finish to Verstappen was particularly surprising to Russell.

Despite Verstappen ultimately securing the victory by a margin of 4.8 seconds, Russell’s strong performance was evident. However, the FIA and Pirelli capped stints at 18 laps due to microscopic tears in the tire sidewalls caused by raised kerb edges at the circuit.

Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner mentioned that Verstappen had deviated from the optimal strategy to ensure flexibility in tire choice if a late safety car were to appear. In terms of average lap pace, McLaren was the fastest on the day, followed by Verstappen, with Russell in third. Russell’s ten best lap times were, on average, 0.531 seconds slower than Verstappen.

Russell appreciated the apology from Hamilton, who took full responsibility for the Turn 1 collision upon review. Nonetheless, Russell described the 2023 season as a “total disaster” for his championship aspirations. He expressed his determination to secure a strong position for the team in the championship and remained positive about the team’s prospects moving forward, given the car’s speed and their strong race performance.