Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says George Russell crashing out on the last lap in Singapore is the type of situation which will “not happen again”.
With Russell having spent much of the race tucked up behind Ferrari’s race leader Carlos Sainz, waiting for the Spaniard to up the pace, Mercedes decided to roll the dice by fitting Russell’s and Lewis Hamilton’s W14s with a fresh set of medium tyres to go on the attack.
But, with the pair catching Lando Norris and Sainz in the closing laps, creating a thrilling four-way battle for victory, disaster struck for Russell when he clipped the wall on the final lap, sending him crashing out of P3 and into the barriers.
George Russell facing “steep learning curve” at Mercedes
Hamilton was able to pick up the scraps and ensure Mercedes’ spot on the podium, though it was 15 points down the drain thanks to Russell’s incident, a potentially costly one down the line for Mercedes as they bid to secure P2 in the Constructors’ Championship.
Speaking after the race, Wolff said Russell was “devastated”, though it was an incident of which a repeat will not be accepted.
“Of course George is an out-and-out racer and he is devastated,” Wolff told reporters in Singapore.
“A rather steep, steep learning curve and we touched on situations, the second year with Mercedes and it’s not going to happen again when it’s not a victory or Championship. But obviously, he’s very upset.”
Norris had said after the race that be believed Russell was the fastest driver of all out on track, Wolff claiming it was a “great weekend” for Russell aside from that unfortunate ending.
“Yeah, I think we haven’t seen with the pace in front, but from the outside perspective it was just a great weekend for him,” said Wolff when asked if he agreed with Norris’ claim.
“And then today he was on it, he was the one also who pushed for the bold calls and said ‘I want to win this race’.
“But at the end he just ran out of laps.”
Ferrari then claimed the honour of snapping Red Bull’s unbeaten run in F1 2023, though Wolff is not convinced that the team which won 15 grands prix in a row before Singapore are suddenly in major trouble heading into the Japanese Grand Prix.
Runaway Championship leader Max Verstappen showed strong race pace in Singapore, recovering to a P5 finish, after a disappointing qualifying where both Red Bulls were eliminated in Q2.
“I think Singapore has always been an outlier of a track,” said Wolff.
“Just because they dropped the ball here, doesn’t mean that going back to a conventional circuit or Suzuka especially…there is a pretty big chance that the normal pecking order is back.”
Ferrari has now closed the deficit to Mercedes to just 24 points in the race to finish P2 in the Constructors’ Championship.