Williams’ George Russell admits that his Mexican Grand Prix, largely spent tucked up behind team-mate Robert Kubica, left him feeling frustrated at what could have been had his team switched the two, using team orders to allow him to attack the cars ahead of him.
Russell made a great start to the race, gaining a handful of places on the first lap before being caught in no-man’s land in turns 5 & 6 shuffling him to the back of the field and behind team-mate Kubica.
An uncharacteristically slow pitstop for Williams and Kubica allowed Russell back ahead, before an opportunistic move by the Pole (who was having his strongest showing of the year) saw them once again switch positions.
Russell would remain behind Kubica until the Pole was forced to pit seven laps from the flag as a result of a slow puncture, the two coming home in 16th and 18th places respectively.
But while Russell admits his race was compromised by being behind Kubica – who was a second a lap slower in qualifying – he concedes he didn’t expect Williams to use team orders to allow him by.
“If I was in that position I wouldn’t expect the team to swap us around, we’re there doing our own race.” Russell said via Formula1.com.
“Ultimately we could have finished a lot higher if we had. So there’s pros and cons for both and we just need to find a solution moving forward what is the best way and what keeps everybody happy.”
So should Williams have used team orders to switch their cars around?
Well, no. George is quite right when he says that the drivers are doing their own race and it would be unfair to remove the challenge of its drivers competing against each other when there is almost nobody else to compete with.
Little could be gained from having Russell move slightly towards the cars ahead of him and it would have made Kubica’s robust and opportunistic move to get past his team-mate earlier in the race for nought.
A second a lap advantage should be enough to engineer an overtake on the car ahead, even in 2019 when opportunities to pass are at a premium.
So in a situation such as this it must down to the drivers to determine who comes home ahead rather than team orders.