George Russell admits lack of concentration and frustration in race ending F1 Singapore GP crash, as Toto Wolff adds his views.
All weekend long in F1 Singapore GP, Mercedes’ Russell did look to have strong pace and one with a good chance of a podium finish and even a win if Red Bull did not have a chance. That is what happened with the Brit in contention for victory.
Mercedes always had the strategy game in their hand with two new sets of tyres available but Ferrari and Carlos Sainz never allowed for a gap to be created for them to exercise it unless a late Virtual Safety Car period which came to their rescue.
It was a tall order still where both Russell and Lewis Hamilton had more than 10 seconds to cut which they did with 4-5 laps to spare to get on the tail of Sainz and McLaren’s Lando Norris. Both Russell and Hamilton hustled the Brit strongly in the end.
But the last lap proved to be costly for Russell at Turn 6-7 when he brushed the wall which ended his certain third place finish. In fact, Norris brushed it just in front of him and escaped any major fallout but it wasn’t the case with the Mercedes driver.
Russell was naturally disappointed with the end despite the pace. He admitted to lack of concentration and maybe frustration of not being able to get by Norris after a tactical game played by Sainz ahead. It was a pathetic mistake as the Brit described.
It was a hard pill to swallow for Russell to end with nothing but team boss Wolff was all praise for the fight put up by the Brit. There was disappointment, but the Austrian didn’t blame him for trying to hustle both Sainz and Norris ahead.
Competitive but strange race and lack of concentration in the end –
Russell: “It was a very strange race with Carlos managing the pace for the whole duration. It was quite hard to keep the concentration as we were driving on and half seconds off the pace. It was only natural for him to do that with, let’s say, the tyre advantage we had. If he went any faster it would have given us the opportunity. We obviously got fortunate with the safety car and that was when the race really turned on its head and got rally exciting. I was really pushing flat out but again Carlos did a great job just to manage the gap with the DRS with Lando, it was very smart of him to do that.
“I had half a chance with Lando and half a car’s length different and I think we would have won the race because I would have got ahead of Lando and Carlos would have been stuck with no DRS and we would have flew by him. Instead, we ended the race in the wall and I have no idea what happened or how it happened. It was probably a lack of concentration, maybe frustration knowing that was the last lap and the opportunity was gone. A one centimetre mistake has clouded the whole weekend.”
Emotions at the time –
Russell: “It is probably an hour ago since it has happened and in the moment you just want to curl up in a ball and be with nobody. It is the most horrendous feeling in the world when you are so physically drained, mentally drained. We missed out on an opportunity for victory and then to make such a mistake it is truly heartbreaking, but I have to be honest now and I’m standing here an hour later and it has been such am amazing weekend. I truly believe that I’m driving better than I have ever driven. Qualifying was amazing and the race was great. I felt confident and comfortable and I’m not going to let a mistake of two centimetres knock me down, so I will have a tough night and a tough morning, but I will then just put it behind me and go again. I can only apologise to the team because they deserved more, but yeah shit happens.”
Forgiving yourself –
Russell: “I’m not just going to brush it off, for sure I’m not. It was such a nothing of a mistake. If I spun off and had a lock up and steered in the wall, it would have been very different but I clipped the wall on the last lap. It is such a pathetic mistake and that is why it feels so strange right now. It is probably that lack of concentration as I said it was the last lap and I knew that opportunity was gone. It goes to show that you need to stay on it. It doesn’t matter what the scenario is. There are a lot of positives.”
Lando Norris brush –
Russell: “It is incredible how the mind thinks because I saw Lando brush the wall and in that split second I thought “Oh he has just hit the wall” and two tenths of a second later I hit the wall. It definitely wasn’t because of Lando’s brush with the wall that caught me off. You often to tend to follow…. I don’t know it is very difficult. I was knackered at the end of the race. I put everything on the line there, I was driving so hard and it was difficult because I wanted to manage my tyres to make sure they are the best possible tyres at the end of the race.
“That is why I kept asking my team to tell me the lap time that is going to get me to the front by the end of the race. I didn’t want to push half a second faster and have no tyres left at the end, but on the flip side I had Lewis behind me pushing everything, so there were a few things to counterbalance. As I said, I felt confident and good. Carlos placed it strategically perfectly and Lando also did a great job. It could have been such a different result for such a small, change with that overtake on Lando but it wasn’t meant to be.”
Feel for Russell –
Wolff: “I’m sad for George because he delivered a 99.9% fantastic weekend and a split second lack of concentration clipped the wall and it happened, but what I said to him is I’d rather have this happening now and the learning is there than when we race for a victory or for a championship, that’s going to be engraved in him, this mistake. On the positive, Lewis had a difficult day and he rebounded, he had lots of pace at the end, a deserved podium and so it’s bittersweet but overall I’m happy about the performance, I’m happy about how the car was all weekend, and I think we gave it our best shot.”
Tackling mistake from Russell, his mood –
Wolff: “We must not forget it’s his second year in a competitive car and he was really giving it all he had, he was pushing hard in order to win the race. At that stage the only way of overtaking Norris and maybe Sainz was to just not leave a milimetre on track. Lando kissed the wall and he was behind him when he hit harder, so that cost him the race but if you push like this things can happen. George is of course and out and out racer and is devastated but what I said to him was we played for third place and not a win, but it is a steep learning curve and with such situations, a second year at Mercedes, it is not going to happen again when it is for a victory or a championship. But obviously he is very upset.”
Here’s how the battle panned out: https://www.formula1.com/en/latest/video.2023-singapore-grand-prix-the-frantic-final-laps-as-sainz-battles-to-hold-off-norris-russell-and-hamilton.1777300254289144255.html
Here’s Carlos Sainz, Lando Norris working together to beat Mercedes
Here’s how F1 Singapore GP panned out