George Russell fell at the first hurdle in the alternative qualifying format at the Hungarian GP as Mercedes suffered for playing the waiting game, while Toto Wolff’s desk suffered from his fist.
Russell found himself among a queue of cars trundling through the final corners of the Hungaroring in preparation for their last Q1 flying laps, though it was far from an orderly queue, with the infamous ‘gentleman’s agreement’ once more being ignored by some.
And that proved to be highly damaging for Russell’s qualifying outing, which came to an end in Q1 as he failed to turn that compromised lap into one good enough to escape the elimination zone.
Russell then is left to face a P18 grid slot, his frustrations shared by Mercedes team boss Wolff who slammed his fist on the desk in anger back in the garage.
“Guys, was there any point, we were in all that traffic sector three,” Russell vented over team radio.
Tyre saving has been the name of the game for much of this race weekend with the different format being trialled, drivers having only 11 sets of slick tyres rather than the usual 13.
All drivers in Q1 were on the hard compound tyre as the format mandates, with the mediums to be used in Q2 and the softs in Q3.
But, while Russell’s team-mate Lewis Hamilton was able to squeeze his way to safety as Mercedes left it as late as possible before sending their drivers out for a last attempt, Russell was not so fortunate, and now faces a major recovery mission on Sunday at the Hungaroring.