Russell has “the most horrendous feeling” over “pathetic mistake” on last lap

Formula 1

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George Russell said he was heartbroken over the last lap error which cost him a podium finish in the Singapore Grand Prix.

However the Mercedes driver said there were many positive things to take away from a weekend where he had qualified on the front row and fought for victory.

Russell was trying to pass Lando Norris for second place when he glanced the wall, lost control of his car and crashed into a barrier at turn 10.

“In the moment, you just want to curl up in a ball and be with nobody,” he told media including RaceFans afterwards. “It’s the most horrendous feeling in the world when you’re so physically drained, mentally drained, missed out on an opportunity of victory and then to make such a mistake. It is truly heartbreaking.”

He started the race from second place and put eventual winner Carlos Sainz Jnr under pressure for many laps. Russell made an extra pit stop during a virtual safety car, past Sainz’s team mate Charles Leclerc and hunted down the two race leaders over the final laps before making his mistake.

Despite missing his chance to finish third or even higher, Russell was pleased with his performance until that point.

“Standing here an hour later, it’s been such an amazing weekend, I feel like I’m truly driving better than I’ve ever driven,” he said. “Qualifying was amazing yesterday, the race was great.

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“I felt confident, I felt comfortable and I’m not going to let a mistake of two centimetres knock me down. So, I’ll have a tough night, probably a tough morning but then just put it behind me and go again.

“I can only apologise to the team because they obviously deserved more. But, shit happens.”

Russell said he saw Norris clip the same wall as him, but keep control of his car, seconds before his crash.

“It is incredible how quickly the mind thinks because I saw Lando brush the wall and in that split second I thought, ‘oh, he’s just hit the wall’ and two tenths of a second later I’ve hit the wall,” he said. “So, it definitely wasn’t because of Lando’s brushing [the wall] that caught me out.”

“I’m not just going to brush it off,” he added, “but it was such a nothing of a mistake. If I’d spun off, or had a lock up and ended up in the wall, I’d be feeling very different.

“But to clip the wall on the last lap, it’s such a pathetic mistake. It’s why it sort of feels so strange right now. It’s probably that lack of concentration, as I said it was the last lap and I knew the opportunity was gone and it goes to show you just need to stay on it, it doesn’t matter what the scenario is.”

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Russell said he will look into how he can avoid similar errors in future. “I feel like I’m generally not a driver to make stupid mistakes and I feel like I don’t crash that often in qualifying or in practice.

“But I’ve made some over the years. I’ve just made some very, very simple mistakes that have had huge consequences. Something I need to review because I feel like it’s not me to do something like that.”

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff sympathised with his driver afterwards. “I’m sad for George because he delivered a 99.9% fantastic weekend and in a split second lack of concentration hit the wall and it happened,” he said.

“What I said to him is I’d rather this is happening now and the learning is there, than when we are racing for a victory or for a championship. That’s going to be engraved in him, this mistake.”

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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39 comments on “Russell has “the most horrendous feeling” over “pathetic mistake” on last lap”

  1. I wonder if he thought that could cost us Mercedes 15 points that could be critical at the end of the year for 2nd place. He gave Ferrari free points today.

    1. Sorry for being pedantic, but it did not cost Mercedes 15 points but 12 points, because Hamilton grabbed those 15 :)

      1. But Leclerc gained 2, so it cost 14 points in total to Ferrari.

      2. Falen,12 points are a lot of points.
        A lot.
        Toto should pay for the missing money that comes with being 3rd instead of being 2nd in constructor championship.
        Carlos is on a roll and Ferrari are surely going to beat Mercedes as long as their number one driver(Russell) keeps finishing behind hamilton.

  2. Quite cool really, how he is about it, and also how Lando and Lewis were being so sweet. He might be thinking more about Lewis catching him, tomorrow, when they were both in free air.

  3. A real shame for him. That hypnotic effect of copying the drivers mistake in front.

  4. “Just give Russell or Leclerc equally quick cars and they will challenge Max” – yeah, NO. Today and France 2022 proved Max is in a different class to everyone and even at his worst when leading (Brazil 2018) he still finished P2, while both Russell and Leclerc found themselves in the barriers and out of the race.

    Such a silly mistake, when the only pressure is on winning a single race. Just imagine Russell under pressure if he has a car to actually challenge Max for the championship.

    1. If you talk about pressure, how about Saudi Arabia 2021, Qatar 2021 and Abu Dhabi 2021. Last 3 races of the 2021 F1 season when Verstappen nearly choked in every race.

      – Saudi Arabia: Verstappen crashed on his Q3 lap and had to rely on a safety car to get him back in the race ahead of Hamilton and Bottas.
      – Qatar 2021: Unnecessary speeding under yellow flags in qualifying.
      – Abu Dhabi 2021: Ruins his flying lap in Q2 on the starting medium tyres, and lost the position to Hamilton at the start on softer tyres against Hamilton’s harder medium tyres.

      Everyone cracks. Even yesterday was a crack when he messed up in the first 3 corners of his Q2 lap. Lawson went only 0.007 faster than him.

      1. Saudi Arabia P2
        Qatar P2
        Abu Dhabi P1

        Leclerc France 2022 – DNF
        Russell Singapore 2023 – DNF

        Everyone cracks, but seemingly there is somebody better at it than the rest of them.

        1. Since you’re so insistant on verstappen being godly, I can’t but point out the monaco 2018 fp3 crash, sort of similar to russell here, which destroyed his car to the point he couldn’t take part in qualifying, losing a chance to win and ending 9th; dare I say 9th is not much better than a DNF.

          However he doesn’t crash often in a way that he can’t continue the race, for sure.

          1. Except in 2018 Max didn’t crack under the pressure in FP3. He crashed because of young overexuberance, pushing the limit further than necessary.

  5. AllTheCoolNamesWereTaken
    17th September 2023, 18:01

    I seem to recall that Hamilton binned it in rather spectacular fashion at Monza in 2009. I mention it here because there are a number of similarities between that incident and Russell’s crash today. Both took place on the final lap of the race, and both involved the driver in third place (in the 2009 race, that was Hamilton; today, Russell) making a mistake while attempting to chase down the two drivers ahead.

    The point is, these things happen, even to the very best. That’s not to say that Russell belongs to that group; maybe he does, maybe he doesn’t. I’ll reserve judgment for now. But today’s incident is certainly not enough to rule him out.

    1. The difference at Monza 2009 was that it was Lewis’ last chance to avoid dropping out of the battle for that year’s championship, a high pressure moment that justified binning it chasing Jenson.

      1. I will never understand the pressure trying to avoid mathematically losing the championship: if you’re mathematically losing the championship at monza already, you weren’t realistically fighting for it anyway, and I wouldn’t be surprised, as the first half of 2009 hamilton drove the worst car of his career.

      2. AllTheCoolNamesWereTaken
        18th September 2023, 6:52

        @frasier I would imagine that the pressure on Hamilton back then wouldn’t have been too dissimilar from the pressure on a driver who is trying to go for his second-ever career win, knows that this might be his only chance all season, and has his 7x WDC teammate breathing down his neck.

        1. That was the day I started liking Hamilton. Immediately prior to his last lap crash, he’d set the fastest sector 1 *of anyone throughout the weekend*. Ahh, those were the days when the (non-Pirelli) tyres had at least a chance to be able to do that.

          He was out of the championship by then. He was absolutely going hell for leather simply because he wanted to beat the car ahead.

  6. Lets not forget Max clipping the exit of the swimming pool at Monaco during a qualy session……. Thought Id throw a `It can happen to anyone` in there…

    1. That’s fp3, you might be confused by the fact he missed quali, but that’s just cause the car was too damaged to repair it in time for quali.

  7. Kudos for trying though George. I’d rather see Mercedes push their drivers for a strategy for the win than play safe and accept second. That’s champion-level ambition. No real harm done.

  8. Merc are not faster than Ferrari in a straight line. But it was a fantastic finish. Lewis is a great guy, but hes way to nice to those guys who keep gutting his setup before qualifying. Almost as bad as watching his car destroy itself when Merc handed Nico the championship, and probably why Nico left, because of how rigged that show is. Anyways, great finish. Would have loved to see Toto’s face when Russell left his car ditch.

    1. pcxmax well said and good observations

  9. RUS crashed defending against HAM and wasn’t working to pass NOR in the last 4 laps. He cost Mercedes a first and a 4th today.

    1. Are you making the assumption that Hamilton with a bit better pace at the end would be 4th and Russel somehow 1st?

      1. When RUS caught NOR, NOR did not have DRS and RUS did. He needed to make the pass right then. He didn’t. SAI backed up to give NOR DRS and RUS couldn’t make it work. RUS then switched to blocking HAM and then karma showed up and sent RUS to the wall for 0 points.

        1. Yeah, you read this right. Russell had settled for 3rd with 3 laps to go. Makes you wonder why the hell did he pit?

          1. Agree, I was immediately suspicious when he stopped, because track position is too important here: russell was 2nd, hamilton was 4th and passes were extremely unlikely unless someone changed tyres, so to me it made sense for hamilton to sacrifice a place to get better tyres (as they had a really nice gap to 6th placed driver), but not for russell to sacrifice 2.

      2. “A bit better pace.” Lewis was half a second faster during the final stint. He took 3 seconds out of George within half a dozen laps until they got blocked by Leclerc. Lewis likely would have won this race if Russell had not stopped.

        1. In hindsight, yes. Lewis had really strong pace in that last stint, and he was pulling that off without destroying the tyres like Russell was.

    2. Hamilton was clearly not threatening Russell as he had more then enough chances to pass him if he wanted to and could have called the team to ask to be let past (if he had asked it would have been all over the live TV feed).
      Way I see it, Russell was preparing to get as good a run as possible out of that corner, was fully focused on following Norris who clipped the same section of wall and was a millimetre further to the right.

  10. If Mercedes were like Red Bull, Lewis Hamilton would have won this race.

    He had the pace to overtake both Norris and Sainz if they let him past Russell – which I agree would have been a hard ask.

    But this is the kind of race that shows the class difference between Hamilton and Russell. Russell is like Leclerc – awesome on his day, but too prone to mistakes when under pressure.

  11. Shit happens, he’ll be better for it

    1. Yes, and in the grand scheme of things, no real harm done. I don’t think he was getting past Norris by that stage, so if isn’t as if he’d lost an easy win, and it isn’t going to change who wins the WDC or the WCC. Yes, Merc loses a few points, and he damaged a few parts, but it won’t break the bank. He can learn from this, but if he’d just pottered round and been overtaken by Hamilton, that would have been much more psychologically damaging.

    2. I agree. Unfortunate but let’s learn forward.

  12. Russell talked a good race on the radio, but didn’t really show.

    Lap 19 – Russell: “Let me know what our best shot at winning this race is, what I need to do.”

    Lap 30 – George Russell is told to look after his tyres but the Briton says, “nah, these hards can go to the end of the race comfortably’.

    Lap 33 – “I wanna go for this win.”

    Having shown his hand with his radio calls, he then promptly loses the DRS he had on Sainz.

    1. I was just going to comment on that. Saying all the time he was all for winning, but never tried to get Carlos, did only a clumsy attempt to pass Lando for 2nd, and then collapsed defending.

      Cone on, George, shut up and drive

      1. I think Saniz had more speed in hand then he was showing

  13. Today’s pro athletes are such … babies.

  14. Max has only stopped crashing into people once he had a car so fast that he’s always out in front alone, with Perez always on orders to pull over and let Max go.
    Bring anyone close to Max, with a car anywhere near as fast, and he’ll start crashing into everyone around him again.

    1. Also on a different note, Grosjean crashed a lot.

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