“This season is one thing after another,” rues Mercedes’ George Russell after accepting responsibility for his collision with eventual race winner Max Verstappen midway through the incident-filled Las Vegas race; Stewards handed Russell a five-second time penalty
Last Updated: 19/11/23 11:14am
George Russell accepted full blame for the collision with Max Verstappen that earned a penalty and dropped him down the final order in the Las Vegas GP.
The Mercedes and Red Bull drivers collided on lap 25 of Sunday’s dramatic race as Verstappen went to overtake down the inside into Turn 12.
Both cars sustained damage in the incident with stewards ruling that, as Verstappen had “a significant portion of the car alongside” at the corner apex, Russell was at fault and so warranted a five-second time penalty being applied.
The sanction had costly implications for Russell, who saw a late surge to finish fourth on the road turn into eighth place once the five seconds were added to his race time.
“The incident with Max was totally my fault. I didn’t see him. Totally in my blind spot around Turn 11,” said Russell to Sky Sports F1.
“I wasn’t really expecting the overtake there because you’ve got the big long straight with DRS afterwards.
“We were on course for an easy podium. It was pretty straightforward. Recovered to P4 but the five seconds knocks us down to P8.”
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said: “I think the situation with Max was unfortunate. Goes on us. Nothing to say to that.”
Verstappen, who went on to win the race, suspected Russell had indeed simply been caught unawares.
“I was lucky that the front wing, the structure, didn’t break. I think he just didn’t see me, which is unfortunate,” said the triple champion.
“I went up the inside thinking that at one point he realised I was there, but I guess he didn’t expect me to go into Turn 12. Then we got together.”
A rueful Russell said the incident and lost opportunity reflected the “story of our season”. The Mercedes driver had qualified third, a position he had held during a chaotic start before pitting for the first time for hard tyres – which he showed strong pace on – on lap 15.
“This season is one thing after another,” said the Englishman, who has finished on the podium just once in 2023 back at June’s Spanish GP.
“Ultimately, the pace was strong but not as strong as the Red Bulls and Ferraris.
“I think when you have a fast car, luck is always on your side and when you’re on the backfoot, luck is never on your side.
“Ultimately, we just need to keep on pushing, go into next week and see what we can do.”
After the thrills of Las Vegas, Formula 1 heads to Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit for the 2023 season finale and another stunning spectacle under the lights. Watch the Abu Dhabi weekend live on Sky Sports F1, with lights out on Sunday at 1pm. Stream F1 on Sky Sports with NOW