One can only imagine how George Russell must be feeling after binning his Mercedes in the dying moments of the 2023 Singapore Grand Prix throwing away at least a podium finish.
A podium, yes and not the win, as despite the ominous pace Russell was showing as he chased down Charles Leclerc, Lando Norris, and Carlos Sainz, the latter was playing the chasing pack very well keeping his nerves to take his second Formula 1 career win, his first at Singapore.
Russell through away what was a brilliant and risky Mercedes strategy – pitting for fresh Mediums under the Virtual Safety Car – that gave him a chance to attack for the win.
He hit the walls a tad too hard chasing Norris, a mistake his compatriot got away with, but the #63 Mercedes’ nose ended up in the wall.
“No words to be honest. Such a long, physical race. Difficult to keep concentration,” Russell told Sky Sports F1 after the race.
“Carlos did a great job backing the pack up, not allowing us to do the alternative strategy,” he added of Sainz. “I think we were half a car’s length from winning the race had I got past Lando when I had the opportunity, I think we would have been able to get past Carlos.
“Then just the last lap, a millimetre lapse of concentration and game over. So just sorry to the whole team,” the Briton lamented.
“It was a really challenging race, the tyres were dropping off and you are pushing the limits. That’s how racing should be, you make a small mistake and you are bitten for it,” a philosophical Russell maintained.
“It’s heart-breaking after such a great weekend – the car has felt great, qualifying was great, the race was great, we were bold with the strategy.
“I feel like I let myself and the team down. It’s tough but we will come back,” Russell concluded.
Mercedes at a disadvantage to Ferrari in the Constructors’ fight
The result meant Ferrari are now only 24 points behind Mercedes on the 2023 F1 Constructors’ Championship. with Aston Martin now third.
Toto Wolff commented on Russell’s mistake, he said: “Just a shame for George because he worked hard for that.
“It could have been a good third and fourth, lots of points, but now we lost 22 against Ferrari,” he added.
One has to thank Mercedes for their pit stop under the VSC as it gave us a race to watch, and Wolff insisted there was no other way they could’ve had a shot at the win.
“It was so difficult to win the race if we were just static,” he said. “So we said let’s go for it and we just went for it and in the end it’s a podium for Lewis and that’s great.
“I don’t think we would have been able to win (by staying out during the VSC) that’s why we took the risk. We knew worst case it was third and fifth, best case the win.
“When we came out with several laps, it (the data) showed first and second),” the Austrian revealed.
Truth be said, Lewis Hamilton who picked up the pieces of Russell’s race was too close for comfort to his teammate as the latter tried to find a away around Norris, probably putting more pressure on the younger Brit when Mercedes should’ve asked the seven-time F1 Champion to hold station.