Toto Wolff will be putting an arm around the shoulder of George Russell after the “unfortunate” incident which saw him blow his chances of victory in Singapore.
With Red Bull out of the victory equation for the first time in F1 2023, Carlos Sainz, Lando Norris, Russell and Lewis Hamilton went into battle in the closing laps as they fought to become the first non-Red Bull race winner of the season.
For a time it looked like Russell was in prime position to take it, Mercedes having gambled on a two-stop and reeled in the leading duo of Sainz and Norris on their fresher rubber. But for Russell, it all went horribly wrong.
George Russell crashed out of the Singapore Grand Prix
On the final lap Russell clipped the outside wall at Turn 10, sending him into the barriers as Sainz went on to claim victory from Norris, with Hamilton benefitting from his team-mate’s misfortune to complete the podium.
Reflecting on the race, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff told Sky F1: “It’s super that Lewis is on the podium and he had a brilliant race, also at the end he had pace.
“It’s just a shame for George because he worked hard for that. It could have been a good third and fourth, lots of points, but now we lost 22 against Ferrari.
“The things he said on the radio, you can’t say that on telly.
“It was just an unfortunate moment, he clipped the wall and that’s a split-second mistake and it ends a great race, it’s a shame because he would have deserved it.”
With Wolff having already alluded to the damage that Russell’s shunt inflicted on Mercedes in the battle against Ferrari, he was asked whether he will be stressing the gravity of the situation to his driver, or offering a comforting shoulder to help him bounce back?
Wolff confirmed he is definitely going with the latter.
“Yeah absolutely. The driver you’re devastated in such a moment, and that’s exactly what I’m going to do,” said Wolff to the suggestion of comforting his driver.
Mercedes data had them finishing one-two in Singapore
Russell had spoken after qualifying about the extra set of fresh medium tyres available and how that could be a boost for Mercedes, this indeed opening the door for he and Hamilton to gamble on a two-stop.
A Virtual Safety Car period created the opening for Mercedes to roll the dice and double-stack their drivers to fit fresh medium tyres.
“It was clear that it was so difficult to win the race if we were just static,” said Wolff. “So we said let’s go for it. We were robust, we went for it and at the end it was a podium for Lewis, that’s great.”
Wolff revealed that as per their information, their plan showed that a one-two finish was on the cards.
Asked if they could have cleared Sainz for the win without going for an alternate strategy, Wolff replied: “No, I don’t think we would have been able to, that’s why we took the risk.
“We knew worst case was third and fifth, but the best case a win. Our plan, where you see where you’re coming out over several laps, it showed us first and second, but obviously that’s the theory.”
Hamilton’s P3 finish saw him take over that spot in the Drivers’ Championship from Fernando Alonso, who failed to score in a horror race for he and his Aston Martin team.