The Singapore Grand Prix gave Formula 1 fans everything they have been waiting for this season.
Unfortunately, it came at a price for Mercedes driver George Russell.
Struggles from Red Bull drivers Max Verstappen and Sergio Pérez all weekend opened the door for another driver — any other driver — to score the first non-Red Bull win of the 2023 campaign. While Ferrari looked strong all weekend, and Carlos Sainz Jr. was running up front all night, an aggressive strategic call from Mercedes gave Russell and Lewis Hamilton each a chance to win.
When Esteban Ocon’s A523 suffered a gearbox failure on Lap 43, Mercedes made the decision to bring in both Hamilton and Russell for a fresh set of mediums. While they gave up track position, allowing Lando Norris to move into second where Russell had been running, and Charles Leclerc to move into third (Hamilton had been running in fourth) the Mercedes duo joined the fight in fourth and fifth, chasing down three drivers running on old hard tyres.
The pair eventually passed Leclerc, setting up a dramatic final few laps with Sainz ahead of Norris, who was just ahead of Russell and Hamilton. Sainz did a masterful job of reeling in Norris, keeping the McLaren driver within DRS range so he could help as a blocker against the charging Silver Arrows.
Then on the final lap, Russell lost control, sliding into the barrier and out of the race. Sainz held onto the victory, followed by Norris and Hamilton, who scored his fifth podium of the season.
Following the finish, he spoke with F1TV and lamented his “heartbreaking” evening.
As Russell notes, there are still positives from the weekend for Mercedes. The team showed they do have some bold strategy calls to offer, and while it might be shaping up to be a two-team fight between them and Ferrari for second in the Constructors’ Championship, that aggression could serve them well down the stretch.
Still, as Russell notes F1 is a sport of centimeters, and on this night, he unfortunately came up centimeters short on what could have been even a bigger night for the team.