George Russell’s wish for Mercedes to confirm his W13 suffered “a bit more damage” than initially thought has come true, Toto Wolff revealing his front wing was “massively damaged” in his crash with Carlos Sainz.
Russell had a frustrating Sunday at the Circuit of The Americas, the Briton involved in an opening lap collision with Sainz.
As the drivers fought for position into the first corner, Russell tagged Sainz and pitched the Ferrari into a spin.
Sainz was forced to retire the car with a water leak while Russell was able to continue but with a five-second time penalty hanging over his head.
He finished the grand prix in fifth place but was 40 seconds behind his team-mate Lewis Hamilton, the former Williams driver hoping the deficit was due to crash damage.
“I know we had some damage so [that] gives me a bit of peace of mind this evening if that damage turns out to be more than we first expected,” he said.
“But, as soon as I recognised we were out of striking range of a better position, it was a matter of just trying to bring the car home.”
Sainz's race is run ❌
— Formula 1 (@F1) October 23, 2022
Mercedes have confirmed that it was worse than initially thought.
“The way he T-boned him, we were surprised that it was not a DNF,” Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff said as per The Race.
“But we’ve just seen the front wing, it’s massively damaged. Not only the front wing endplate, but also below. And that’s the aero critical part.
“So, he had a car that was not capable.”
The Austrian also weighed in on Russell’s penalty for causing a collision.
According to Wolff it was nothing more than a racing incident, one in which both drivers had a part to play given that Sainz “cut in quite brutally”.
“I think that the incident at Turn One is a racing incident that maybe swung,” he said.
“If I was a steward I would look at it and it’s maybe, George had a late brake, maybe had a little understeer moment.
“Then Carlos cut in quite brutally. I don’t know if Max had an energy thing, so yeah it’s a shame, but we need to take it on the chin the five seconds and then the way he t-boned him, we were surprised that it was not a DNF.”
Russell, though, has already held up his hand for the contact.
“Firstly apologies to Carlos,” he said. “I’ve already been to see him.
“When I was attacking into Turn 1 and I saw he was on the outside of Max [Verstappen] I was expecting him to try to hold it around the outside of him, and as soon as I recognised he was trying to cut back underneath Max, I had already committed to my braking zone, and contact was inevitable.
“But as a driver you need to be aware of those possibilities of the cars ahead.
“As I said, I hold my hands up to that. There is not a lot more to say than that.”