'I know he’ll bounce back' – Hamilton and Wolff defend Russell after his costly last lap crash in Singapore
Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff have thrown their support behind George Russell following the Briton's last lap crash at this weekend's Singapore Grand Prix.
With Russell and Hamilton running second and fourth respectively, Mercedes decided to pit both drivers for some new mediums under the Virtual Safety Car – caused by Esteban Ocon stopping on track – giving them a chance to go for the win.
And after dropping down to fourth and fifth, the pair made their way past Charles Leclerc, before hunting down Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz. However, they could not get ahead of the two, with Sainz giving Norris DRS to hold up Russell and Hamilton.
And on the final lap as he chased down Norris, Russell clipped the barrier on the entry into Turn 10, with the damage to his suspension seeing him slide straight into the wall. That promoted Hamilton to third – and speaking after the race, he drew from his own experience in Singapore to defend Russell.
“Well, we're all trying to be millimetre-perfect out there and it's very, very easy to make mistakes,” said Hamilton. “It's very easy too for any of us to have been in the position that George was in. He's been driving phenomenally all weekend, so it was really unfortunate for him [on the] last lap to finish that way... but I know he’ll bounce back.
“He continues to grow, he’s continuing to improve, so I know that he's going to keep getting stronger and faster, and if there's any way I can help, I will be a part of that, naturally, in the next couple of years.
“But yeah, I have a lot of experience. I've been here a long time so putting together a race is… not that it’s easy, but the race is where I'm most comfortable on track and yeah, I think it's just keeping your head down.
“If you look at last year for example, I made a mistake in Turn 7 and went off and crashed into the wall. So it can happen to any one of us and it's just one of those things.”
Wolff, meanwhile, admitted that while he was happy to see Hamilton on the podium, he felt Russell also deserved a top three trophy for his performance over the weekend.
“Yeah, super that Lewis is on the podium. He had a brilliant race, also at the end he had pace,” Wolff told Sky Sports F1. “Just a shame for George because he worked hard for that. It could have been a good third and fourth, lots of points, but now we’ve lost 22 against Ferrari.
“It was just an unfortunate moment; he clipped the wall and it’s a split second of a tiny mistake, and it ends a great race. It’s a shame because he would have deserved [a podium].”
Asked if he planned to put an arm around Russell to support him following the incident, Wolff replied: “Absolutely. As a driver you are devastated in such a moment, so that’s exactly what I’m going to do.”