‘Gutted’ Russell rues ‘stupid mistake’ after crash behind Safety Car costs him first F1 point
Just as it looked like he was on course to score his first ever F1 point, George Russell’s world came crashing down after he made what he referred to as a “stupid mistake”, crashing behind the Safety Car while on cold tyres late in the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
The Williams driver has shown flashes of brilliant speed since making his debut last season, particularly in qualifying, and has come close to a point on multiple occasions only to narrowly miss out. After an early pit stop at Imola, and the neutralisation of the race behind the Safety Car following Max Verstappen’s retirement, another shot at a top 10 finish presented itself.
But on the approach to Acqua Minerale, Russell – on older, cold tyres – lost control of his Williams, pitching the car into the wall and out of the race.
Having initially sat dejectedly at the side of the track, Russell eventually returned to the pits where he was asked what he had got to do to get that elusive first point. “I don’t know, not make stupid mistakes like I did today,” he replied bluntly. “It was a race I was pushing as hard as I could from lap one until then, the most aggressive I’ve ever been.
“I wanted to continue that under the Safety Car as I knew that with the guys behind me on the new hot tyres, myself on the old tyres, if I had any chance of getting a point, I needed to be super aggressive. As soon as I lost the car, I was already in the wall. It’s gutting. I’m really sorry for all the guys.
He added: “I was accelerating and I was changing gear at the same time. With cold tyres, this sometimes happens with cold tyres. It was my job to work them as hard as I could. There’s no excuses. Go away and learn from this and try and come back stronger next time.”
Russell had made it into Q2 for the eighth time in 12 races on Saturday and showed impressive form in the race – an area he admitted he had been working on. He pulled off an aggressive pass on Sebastian Vettel at the start and then got ahead of Esteban Ocon’s Renault on pure pace.
“We were in that position on merit,” he said. “I managed to jump Ocon, pulled away from him in the early phase of the race and I was the same pace as the McLarens ahead of me. The car was alive this weekend. It will come.
“We’re understanding it better and better, week in, week out. My first laps have been poor. I made quite a bold, aggressive move on Sebastian in the first corner, which is something I have been wanting to work on, and like I say, I feel like some times I’ve been too conservative in races and definitely found the limit today.”
The result means Russell remains rooted to the bottom of the drivers' standings, his team mate Nicholas Latifi - who finished P11 - ahead of him by virtue of better finishes, despite also having no points.