F1 World Champion expects drivers to take note of ‘mentally scarred’ George Russell

Thomas Maher
Mercedes' George Russell at the Japanese Grand Prix.

Mercedes' George Russell at the Japanese Grand Prix.

Damon Hill believes George Russell’s mistake in Singapore will have been noted by some of his rivals as a potential weakness.

Racing for the win at last weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix, Russell was leading the Mercedes charge after a strategy gamble to take on fresh medium tyres, and was applying pressure to the leading duo of Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris.

But Russell made a critical error on the final lap, striking the wall just hard enough to break his supension and spear off into the barriers with only half a lap to go – handing the final podium place to Lewis Hamilton and ruining any chance of a better result for Mercedes.

Damon Hill: George Russell’s Singapore crash will leave a mental scar

Addressing Russell’s error during Sky F1’s coverage of practice on Friday, 1996 F1 World Champion Damon Hill said Russell will be fully aware that his error will have been noted as a weakness by his rivals – handing them more weaponry for use in future battles.

“Hitting the wall…” Hill mused.

“That’s a mental scar – it has to be, he knows that those things are taken note of by other drivers.

“He knows that his teammate was right up behind him, pressuring him. He was right behind Lando, he was trying to make progress, and he made an error.

“It sounds like a very simple thing to do. But, when you’re that close behind the car in front of you, you can’t see where you are on the track so he’ll remember that. It’ll go in the memory bank, into the learning bank. He’ll never do that again, hopefully.”

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Karun Chandhok: That error will live with George Russell for a while

Agreeing with Hill’s assessment of the error, Karun Chandhok said it’s a mistake that Russell will likely dwell on for quite some time.

“I think it’s helpful having another race straight away because then you get your mind back on the job of actually driving,” he said.

“But he’ll feel that pain for a long time because that was a potential win, he was in the fight for the win.

“I’m not saying he would have gotten it, but he was in that fight. It wasn’t an error like he was coming out of a corner and clouted an outside barrier, it was one of the things where your eye line there is looking left to the apex and he just got caught out with the way the wall juts in on the right.

“Knowing George, he will be annoyed with himself, angry with himself. Honestly, that’ll live with him for a while.

“I honestly still think back to mistakes I made, eight, 10, 15 15 years ago in races and think ‘I wish I’d done something quite differently there’. So yeah, I don’t think he’ll forget that one.”

While the pundits think Russell may be haunted by his error, the British driver refuted that when he spoke to media on Thursday – asserting that he has already moved on from the mistake.

“It’s been pretty good, it probably stayed with me for 24 hours,” he said.

“I think, in any moment of disappointment or failure or whatever you want to call it, you need to take the positives away. I had a nice phone call from one of the chief engineers basically saying ‘George, the only reason we had a chance of victory this weekend was because of the amazing job you did all weekend’.

“These things happen, we’re pushing ourselves above and beyond, we went all in for the win, and sometimes a street circuit bites when you make a mistake by one or two centimetres so I’m not going to let it affect me. It’s history, and I’m looking forward to the rest of the year.”

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