George Russell dropped to eighth at the end of the 2023 Las Vegas Grand Prix following a five-second time penalty for contact with Max Verstappen, the Mercedes driver admitting his fault.
That capped off a tough race for Mercedes, as the eight-time Formula 1 Constructors’ Champions struggled for pace, and while Russell seemed to be in better form than teammate Lewis Hamilton, his mistake defending from Verstappen undid all his hard work on Saturday evening in Las Vegas.
Russell was gracious to shoulder the blame after the race, and said in Mercedes‘ post race report: “Today was on me; I simply didn’t see Verstappen.
“He was totally in the blind spot, and we made contact; it was completely my fault. We knew they were much quicker than us and I was happy to concede the position. I knew our fight wasn’t with Verstappen and tyre management was more important,” he explained.
Positives can be taken from Las Vegas
“It was a real shame as we were on course for a podium,” Russell added. “It changed the dynamic of the race too with the Safety Car. It feels like we’ve thrown another one away today and I am really disappointed right now. It is the story of our season.
“There are positives we can take into Abu Dhabi. We were in the fight for second on the road today, but we will have to put in a strong showing in the final race to claim P2 in the Constructors’ Championship,” the Briton concluded.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff reflected on Russell’s penalty, he said: “Once George was given the five-second time penalty, it was pretty much game over for him in terms of the podium.
“He definitely had the speed to challenge those at the front, maybe not Verstappen, but possibly Leclerc and Perez. It is what it is though.
“It’s frustrating to say but today was another example of a Grand Prix where we’ve had good pace and not got the result that pace has deserved,” the Austrian lamented.
Mercedes leave Las Vegas only four points ahead of Ferrari in the 2023 F1 Constructors’ Championship, and will have a challenge on their hands less than a week from now to defend their second place from the Maranello squad in the season finale in Abu Dhabi.