Motor racing-Russell consigns Singapore crash to history

FILE PHOTO: Formula One F1 - Japanese Grand Prix - Suzuka Circuit, Suzuka, Japan - September 21, 2023. Mercedes' George Russell ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix. REUTERS/Issei Kato/File Photo

SUZUKA, Japan (Reuters) - George Russell put his Singapore Grand Prix crash behind him on Thursday and said he would not make such a costly mistake when Mercedes were again fighting for Formula One championships.

The Briton crashed on the final lap of Sunday's race while in third place and, on fresher tyres, hot on the heels of McLaren's Lando Norris and Ferrari's eventual winner Carlos Sainz.

"Sunday night, Shov (Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin) gave me a phone call and he basically said ‘Look don’t worry about it, the only reason we were there and had a chance of victory was because of the amazing job you did the whole weekend'," Russell told Sky Sports at the Japanese Grand Prix.

"So that gave me a lot of peace of mind and I knew that myself," he added.

"We went all-in for the victory, we were pushing ourselves above and beyond every single lap, we're going against the best drivers in the world and on a circuit like that you've only got to make a mistake by a couple of centimetres and you're off."

Russell said he saw Norris touch the wall moments ahead of him and "clearly just sort of followed him and did it even more.

"I've got to be honest, it's history now," he added.

"I am here to fight for victories, I am here to fight for championships. This year we're not fighting for a championship and we want to go all in for a victory and make sure we secure that second place.

"But I can tell you it won’t happen when we’re fighting for a championship."

Team mate Lewis Hamilton said he messaged Russell after the race.

"As we do when we’ve both had difficult weekends just to say, wishing you ... you'll come back and just try to shine a bit of positivity because we all know what it's like when you have a difficult weekend," he said.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Ken Ferris)

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