George Russell was fighting back tears as he spoke to media following his heartbreaking last-lap crash at the Singapore Grand Prix.
Russell was chasing the McLaren of Lando Norris for second when both cars made identical errors, clipping the wall at the entry to turn 10.
While Norris was lucky to be able to continue, the impact broke Russell’s right-rear suspension and carted him into the outside wall.
READ MORE: Eddie ‘found out’ as Wallabies crash to 69-year low
READ MORE: ‘Rude’ F1 great blasted for ‘cringe’ Piastri moment
READ MORE: ‘Real headache’ for Bellamy as star races injury clock
The crash elevated teammate Lewis Hamilton into third spot, his fifth podium for the year.
« No words to be honest, » the 25-year-old Brit told Sky Sports after the race.
« Such a long race. Physical race. Difficult to keep concentration when Carlos (Sainz) was doing a great job backing the pack up and not allowing us to do the alternative strategy.
« I think we were half a car’s length from winning the race had I got past Lando when I had the opportunity, I think we would have been able to get past Carlos and then just the last lap, millimetre lapse in concentration and game over. »
Russell was running second when his Mercedes team made a bold strategy call to pit both him and fourth-placed Hamilton under a virtual safety car to fetch the stricken Alpine of Esteban Ocon – who was celebrating his 27th birthday.
They emerged in fourth and fifth. On fresh tyres, the pair first bridged a gap of nearly 15 seconds to the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc in only eight laps before both moved past into third and fourth.
Russell crashes out of Singapore Grand Prix on last lasp
At that point, the gap to Norris and Sainz ahead was still over six seconds, but they reeled that in in under five laps.
However, some masterful driving from Sainz to keep Norris in his DRS window, which not only aided Norris in his own defence against the rapid Mercedes, but protected himself as well, meant the Mercs charge ended there.
The DRS (Drag Reduction System) allows drivers to open a slot in their rear wing on long straights when within one second of the car in front, giving them a significant speed advantage to boost overtaking.
On a track where overtaking is difficult, it was a method Sainz had used earlier in the race to great effect. It allowed him to drive the race at a pace that suited his strategy and protected his tyres from overheating.
Russell said the result was « heartbreaking ».
« It was a really challenging race here. The tyres are dropping off and you’re pushing the limits – it’s how racing should be, » he said.
« You make a small mistake here and you’re bitten for it. But it’s heartbreaking after such a great weekend.
« The car felt great, qualifying was great, the race was great, we were bold with the strategy, yeah I feel like I let myself down and the team down, but that’s racing.
« It’s tough, but we’ll come back. »
The F1 circus continues next weekend at the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka.