George Russell was left kicking himself after his mistake in the Monaco Grand Prix cost him a podium he felt was all but certain after his pit stop.
Mercedes opted to start with Russell on the hard compound tire in Sunday’s race and ran long in case rain fell or there was an interruption that would allow a quick pit stop. It was the weather that intervened and Russell was running third when it was time to fit intermediate tires, doing so at the same time as Esteban Ocon and Lewis Hamilton and emerging still ahead of both. However, Russell instantly lost both positions after going straight on at Mirabeau and came home fifth.
“Exceptionally boring race until the rain came down,” Russell said. “Kinda came outta nowhere as it wasn’t on the forecast. Really kicking myself because P3 was almost guaranteed after not pitting. I came out, there was a yellow flag, I backed off and as soon as I touched the brakes I locked up and followed Stroll up the escape road.
“That’s probably a lesson when you’re not on it and you’re not focused you make those mistakes. If there wasn’t a yellow flag there I would have been focusing more and wouldn’t have gone off. Cost the team a comfortable P3.”
Team principal Toto Wolff took to the radio to try and calm Russell down later in the race, but the driver says he was still in control of his emotions just trying to find a release behind the wheel at the time.
“Probably I was venting my frustration at myself. Nothing more than that. As a driver you sometimes want to get the frustration out of your body.
“Not necessarily easy for everybody to understand why and I actually learned my mistake wasn’t actually shown on television until a replay after the race. I don’t think it was actually clear to people that we were effectively P3 on track and lost it. A lot of people text me saying ‘well done on P5’, not realizing I made a big mistake and cost us P3.”
Recovering from his error, Russell reversed out of the escape road but into the path of Sergio Perez who ran into the Mercedes, earning Russell a five-second time penalty that he took full responsibility for and says could have been a race-ending incident.
“Definitely damaged the car a bit. I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to continue but it sorted itself out as the lap progressed. I think the toes got bent at the rear end. I felt really uncomfortable in the car but we were the quickest on track during that period so I don’t really know what was going on.
“As soon as I knew we were safe to Charles (Leclerc) I brought it home. But it’s very disappointing when you do everything right for 98 percent of it but that one tiny mistake costs everything.”