George Russell said it felt like “something had pushed me” as a brake problem forced him into an early exit from Singapore Grand Prix qualifying.
Russell failed to reach Q3 for the first time since the Miami Grand Prix as car struggles that had plagued him since FP1 badly affected his qualifying session.
The Mercedes car, as proven by Russell’s team-mate Lewis Hamilton who qualified P3, has shown pace around the Singapore track this weekend but Russell was unable to maximise it, having to settle for a P11 start in Sunday’s race.
With the varying and tricky conditions the damp track was offering, the initial suspicion was that Russell was struggling to find grip in his tyres, but the 24-year-old revealed it was actually an engine/brake issue.
“I was struggling with something regarding the brakes and the engine from FP1 where it was pushing me into the corners,” Russell told Sky Sports F1. “And it kind of felt like I had throttle on as I was going in.
“I didn’t have throttle and it isn’t that but that was [the] feeling, sort of pushing me everywhere. So as the car’s braking, I just get to the corner and it was like something had pushed me from behind and [I] just couldn’t get round there.
“The grip felt good, I just couldn’t get around any corners. I just got there and just kept understeering off.”
Singapore is often described as a track only behind Monaco in terms of how important qualifying is and Russell acknowledged that was the case, but took confidence in the fact tyre degradation appeared high and it could be a two-stop race.
So close! Lewis qualifies P3. 👊
Plenty of opportunities for both drivers in tomorrow’s race. pic.twitter.com/IkXoTHBtNx
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) October 1, 2022
“It’s definitely an encouraging weekend,” said Russell. “But encouraging doesn’t mean anything. We are here to score points. And ultimately, this is a qualifying track.
“Fortunately, the degradation is looking pretty high [so it] could be a two-stop race tomorrow, but it’s just a shame not to be out there now and fighting for where we deserve to fight which is probably top three.”
While Russell did not elaborate in detail about what the exact nature of the problem was, he said he was hopeful the team would be able to fix it before the race.
“I hope so because we definitely need to do something,” he said. “Obviously disappointing for myself and the whole team.
“The car was looking strong here. Lewis is really, really fast but [I] just couldn’t make it work.”