George Russell says it is “crazy” that he sits second in the F1 drivers’ standings after another strong haul of points in Australia, where he finished third. The Mercedes rookie picked up his third successive top-five result of the season to jump ahead of Max Verstappen who retired late on.
Verstappen was on course to finish second in Sunday’s race before a late mechanical failure brought his race to an end on lap 39. Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz was lying second in the standings ahead of the race but also failed to score.
The Spaniard spun on the exit of turn nine and beached his car in the gravel, bringing out the first safety car. Russell has scored 37 points this season but is still 34 points behind Leclerc.
Mercedes stays second in the Constructors’ Championship but is 49 points behind Ferrari. When asked how it felt to be second in the title battle, Russell simply said it was “crazy”.
Russell added: “Someone told me, I didn’t believe them. It’s pretty crazy to think.
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The former Williams star battled with Sergio Perez for what would become second but was unable to hold onto the position. The 24-year-old even claimed a bid for the crown might not be over if the team keep picking up points on a consistent basis.
He added: “We know there’s potential in the car and we have a lot of work to do to extract that performance. It won’t happen overnight or in the next race but I do think in time we’ll get there. For the time being, if we get these results, it’s keeping us in the mix.”