Emotional Russell feels he ‘let down Mercedes’ in last-lap crash

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George Russell left to reflect on “heart-breaking” end to his charge for Mercedes’ first win of the season at Marina Bay; Mercedes say ceding track position and going for the win on fresher tyres was the right way to go in attempt to break Singapore strategy stalemate

George Russell says he feels like he let himself and the team down after his final-lap crash in Singapore

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George Russell says he feels like he let himself and the team down after his final-lap crash in Singapore

George Russell says he feels like he let himself and the team down after his final-lap crash in Singapore

A visibly-emotional George Russell said he felt as though he had “let myself and the team down” after the Mercedes driver’s thrilling late pursuit of victory ended with a crash into the barriers on the final lap of a dramatic Singapore Grand Prix.

In a breathless conclusion to the race as four drivers – including the two Mercedes’ armed with fresher tyres – vied for victory, Russell was hounding second-placed Lando Norris around the final lap but tagged the Turn 10 wall with what appeared the merest touch of his right-rear tyre and went straight on and out of the race.

The disappointment was palpable for Russell.

He been on supreme form all weekend, qualifying on the front row around the demanding floodlit street track, and the 25-year-old suspects he would have won the race from Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz had he passed Norris when he first arrived on the back of the second-placed McLaren on lap 59.

“I think we were half a car’s length from winning the race,” a regretful Russell told Sky Sports F1.

“Had I got past Lando when I had the opportunity, I think we would have been able to get past Carlos.

George Russell crashes out on the final lap of a thrilling Singapore Grand Prix as Carlos Sainz holds on to win, with Lando Norris and Lewis Hamilton completing the top three

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George Russell crashes out on the final lap of a thrilling Singapore Grand Prix as Carlos Sainz holds on to win, with Lando Norris and Lewis Hamilton completing the top three

George Russell crashes out on the final lap of a thrilling Singapore Grand Prix as Carlos Sainz holds on to win, with Lando Norris and Lewis Hamilton completing the top three

“Then just the last lap, a millimetre lapse of concentration and game over. So just sorry to the whole team.

“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.

“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.”

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In pictures: How Russell’s race unravelled

Mercedes have no regrets on strategy gamble | ‘We took the risk’

Having qualified on the front row next to the polesitting Sainz, Russell dropped behind the other Ferrari of Charles Leclerc at the start – and also briefly behind his own team-mate Lewis Hamilton, who had to give the place back for going off track – but regained his grid spot during the Safety Car period when Logan Sargeant crashed.

Russell then ran close behind the leading Ferrari until Mercedes used the appearance of a Virtual Safety Car on lap 44 to cede track position with both their cars and gamble on switching to the new sets of medium tyres they had kept back from earlier in the weekend.

Returning to the track in fourth and fifth places respectively, Russell and Hamilton were immediately much faster than the leaders, quickly re-passed Leclerc, and then caught up the closely-matched top two to set up a stunning chase over the closing laps.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff says it was very difficult to win the race so they decided to go for it and got a 'great' podium for Lewis Hamilton

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Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff says it was very difficult to win the race so they decided to go for it and got a ‘great’ podium for Lewis Hamilton

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff says it was very difficult to win the race so they decided to go for it and got a ‘great’ podium for Lewis Hamilton

While the strategy ultimately did not even result in regaining the second place that Russell had vacated, Toto Wolff said the team had been right to go on the attack for what would have been their own first victory of the season.

“Super that Lewis is on the podium. He had a brilliant race and and had pace at the end,” said Wolff to Sky Sports F1. “Just a shame for George because he worked hard for that.

“It was so difficult to win the race if we were just static. 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,” he said.

“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.”

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The Sky F1 pundits on Russell’s late, late heartache

Danica Patrick:

“Mistakes happen and he will remember this one forever. He was fast all weekend and calling out this race, wanting to win it from the very beginning.

“He felt like he had it in him telling the team ‘what can we do, I can win’. I’m sure he’s kicking himself for not making the Lando pass complete. Devastation.”

Karun Chandhok:

“I’ve known George since he was 14 years old and I can tell you he is very hard on himself. He will feel the pain on that for a little while. The good news for him is we go to Japan next week and he can clean the slate and go again.

“But that’s a bitter pill for him to swallow.”

Get ready to set those early alarms as Formula 1 now heads to Suzuka for the Japanese GP. Watch all sessions live on Sky Sports F1 from September 22-24. Stream F1 on Sky Sports with NOW. Cancel anytime

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