Mercedes came agonisingly close to their first victory of the season at the Dutch Grand Prix, which they potentially could have won had it not been for a Virtual Safety Car.
It ended up being somewhat of a disappointing result for the Silver Arrows, after Sir Lewis Hamilton slipped from first to fourth in the final handful of laps.
George Russell, on the other hand, managed to salvage a second-place finish, matching his best ever result in the sport which he claimed at last season’s Belgian Grand Prix.
Russell was running in third behind Hamilton and race leader Max Verstappen; who maintained his lead after getting a cheap pit-stop courtesy of a VSC for Yuki Tsunoda’s AT03 to be removed from the circuit.
Had the race not been neutralised, then Verstappen would’ve exited the pits in third, behind both Mercedes.
He did momentarily drop behind both Mercedes drivers slightly later in the race, when a full Safety Car was released due to Valtteri Bottas coming to a halt on the pit straight.
Verstappen immediately pitted for Softs, whereas Hamilton and Russell opted to continue on their old Mediums; alas, in first and second.
However, Russell jumped onto the team radio demanding a set of Soft tyres, after recognising it was the best option.
This put Russell back behind Verstappen, whilst his 37-year-old team-mate continued in first on his Mediums.
Hamilton was a sitting duck at the restart, whereas Russell was able to get ahead of his Silver Arrows team-mate to claim a solid second place.
Russell believed the Softs were his only chance of fighting for victory, with the former Williams Racing driver admitting the team had “nothing to lose”.
“I think we had nothing to lose,” the 24-year-old said.
“We were pushing absolutely flat out and we knew that was our only opportunity to fight for victory.
“In our strategy meetings, we said we need to be bold in our decisions to be able to fight for victory and I think, starting on that medium, it was clear that the others were going to be doing a two-stop. As I said, we just absolutely went for it.
“And when we saw Max [Verstappen] in our sights, that was really exciting. It was probably, for me personally, the most enjoyable race I’ve ever had in Formula 1, just being able to push so hard for so long on such an exceptional circuit as well. I think it was really quite fun.”
Despite enjoying the race, the German team’s winless streak this season continues, with time quickly running out if Mercedes want to continue their record of winning at least one race every year since 2012.
The British driver does think the team can do it; however, they need to improve their qualifying performance first.
“There’s no doubt we’ve got the race pace to be able to win,” believes Russell.
“Absolutely sure of that. And had we been starting P2, 3, 4 we probably could have won the race today.
“Ultimately it’s going to come down to our qualifying performance on a Saturday. If we continue to qualify P6 and P8 as we have done in the last two race weekends, we’re going to really struggle to win a race. But we need to find a bit more magic in qualifying as we showed in Budapest.”