George Russell’s hopes of a podium finish at the 2023 Singapore Grand Prix came to a crashing halt when he clipped the wall on the final lap while running in third position. The Briton had begun the race from second on the grid, narrowly missing out on his first pole position of 2023.
Despite his promising start, a quicker getaway from Charles Leclerc, who started third, meant Russell found himself in third place during the race’s initial stages. However, the Mercedes driver managed to reclaim second position after the first round of pit stops. A subsequent Safety Car deployment forced both Ferrari drivers to double-stack in the pits, causing Leclerc to lose two places – one to Russell and the other to Lando Norris.
Russell was relentless in his pursuit of victory
For much of the race, Russell trailed Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, and he also had to navigate past a struggling Max Verstappen, who was on a harder tire compound after opting not to pit during the Safety Car period. Although Russell couldn’t find a way past the eventual race winner, Sainz, an opportunity did present itself when the Virtual Safety Car was deployed.
Both Mercedes drivers seized this chance to pit and switch to a fresh set of medium tires. Exiting the pits, Russell, who had been in P2 before the VSC, found himself in 4th, trailing both Leclerc and Norris with just 17 laps remaining. By lap 53, Russell had dispatched Leclerc and set his sights on Norris. However, despite closing the gap to Norris with only three laps left, the pace advantage of the Mercedes wasn’t sufficient. Norris received a helping hand from Sainz, who strategically allowed Norris to benefit from the DRS.
Reflecting on the race in a post-race interview with F1, George Russell emphasized that his primary objective had always been to win.
F1 : Hey George, you were the fastest man out there today. I know you didn’t come away with anything, so just how are you feeling right now?
Russell (looks down and thinks before answering) : “Yeah, lost of words to be honest. I think we were half a car’s length away from winning the race, had I been able to overtake Lando when I had that one opportunity. Because Carlos did such a great job at dictating the pace, giving Lando the DRS, that we couldn’t give a chance to overtake Lando.
And then [on the] last lap, I don’t know what the hell happened there. Just…Whether it was a lack of concentration, maybe frustration knowing that was our opportunity gone. A mistake of one or two centimeters has just put a shadow on the whole weekend, one of which would have been an amazing weekend.
The team did an amazing job, the car was great, the strategy was bang on, we were aggressive, we were bold. And it was exciting, it was really exciting out there and… just.. Yeah it’s heartbreaking to be standing here with no points.
[It] Definitely sums up the season I’ve been having this year. But as I say, there’s definitely positives to take away. But… yeah, nothing more to say really.”
F1 : It was worth throwing everything at it though, wasn’t it? We heard you on Team Radio throughout going, ‘I want to go for this win’. You wanted to throw the dice, you wanted to push, you wanted to put yourself on that ragged edge. It was worth it, wasn’t it?
Russell : “Yeah, it was definitely worth it. You know, I was willing to lose a position or two if that gave us half a chance of winning the race. We knew on the same strategy as Carlos, we weren’t going to be able to overtake on track. And we were bold. I was managing my tyres as I was closing that gap. Because I knew I needed my tyres in the best state possible for those last five laps. And it was a bit challenging because I had Lewis behind.
He was definitely pushing harder than I was.
As I said, it’s such a shame. It’s one or two centimeters mistaken. The whole weekend was gone. So, yeah, massively sorry to the whole team. They deserve more. We all deserve more. But I’m not going to let it cloud my weekend.”
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