Formula One director Ross Brawn made a subtle dig at Mercedes following George Russell‘s claims that the first Sprint of the 2022 season at Imola was ‘processional’.
Max Verstappen emerged victorious ahead of Charles Leclerc, while Mercedes continued to be way off the pace and finished outside of the top 10 – with Lewis Hamilton already writing off his team’s title chances this season.
While the Sprint was heralded for it’s entertainment, with Red Bull’s Verstappen overtaking his Ferrari counterpart on the final laps to seal victory and maximum points, those views were not shared by Russell. The British driver stated after the event that it was a ‘processional’, suggesting the Sprint was not long enough to lead to true competitiveness – despite the overtaking from the likes of Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren during the 21 laps at Imola.
Those comments were presented to F1 director Ross Brawn, who appeared to issue a dig at Mercedes’ struggles so far this season by stating the opinions of the drivers towards the front of the grid would carry the most weight.
“Whenever my driver’s had a bad car he’s complained about the race. So I think George’s opinion or the opinion of anyone in the back of the grid is not the opinions that we really listen to.
“The opinions we listen to are the guys who were really competitive, they’re racing in the middle or racing at the front. They’re in a very unfortunate position, but I don’t think their position in the back of the grid is really one that reflects the true position of racing.”
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Russell’s views would not be ignored entirely, however, with Brawn adding: “I just know from my own experience psychologically a driver of the back of the grid has got all sorts of other things going on. It would be great if there were things going on at the back.
“We had a Mercedes that couldn’t overtake the cars in front but there was plenty of overtaking going on in the middle and the front. So of course we’ll listen, we won’t ignore it, but I think you have to you have to keep a perspective on it.”
Mercedes’ inability to compete in the Sprint came on the back of a poor qualifying performance on Friday, which saw the team fail to get a car into the final round of qualifying for the first time since the 2012 Japanese Grand Prix.