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