George Russell pins blame on Mercedes for using him as Lewis Hamilton’s guinea pig

George Russell finished outside the points for just the second time in 2022.

George Russell endured what ended up being a miserable Singapore Grand Prix, despite having looked strong on the opening day at the Marina Bay Circuit.

Both Russell and Sir Lewis Hamilton looked “capable of winning” across Free Practice; however, a shock Q2 elimination for the former Williams driver saw Mercedes fit Russell with a new power unit, resulting in a pitlane start.

With the conditions being treacherous, Russell failed to make any progress in the opening stages of the race, resulting in the Brit being the “hero” and fitting the Medium tyres on what was still a very damp circuit.

Russell openly admits it was the “wrong decision” to make the change so early; however, thanks to a Safety Car following a crash for Yuki Tsunoda, he managed to tag onto the back of the pack.

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As the circuit continued to dry, the 24-year-old finally made some progress through the field.

This came to a sudden end, though, after bizarrely cutting across Mick Schumacher on the rundown to Turn One.

The following collision resulted in a puncture for Russell, which for the second time in the race dropped him to the back of the field, where he ultimately finished.

Russell was understandably disappointed after the two-hour long race but was relieved that the new power unit saw his pace return to “normal”, after an issue with his engine appeared to be the reason for his shock Q2 exit.

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“Firstly, confidence restored that we fixed the car today and we had our normal pace,” Russell told reporters.

“We definitely had a car this weekend that was capable of winning.

“Just a bit of a shame how this weekend has has unfolded. We were very, very fast today. I think, had it not been for that incident with Mick [Schumacher], we would have finished inside the top 10. Not too sure what happened there but it’s just the way Formula 1 goes sometimes.

“We’ve had such a great run a form as a team, I feel like we’ve been pretty flawless all season, but it was just one of those weekends that went against us.”

Russell’s switch to the Mediums was unbelievably brave and quite clearly wrong, as the Brit performed a brilliant drift around Turn Three after exiting the pits.

The Silver Arrows driver didn’t actually ask his team for the slick compound but was aware that they “had to try something”.

“I was asking to pit for a new set of inters,” Russell added.

“I trust the team, the team trust me, they thought it was time to go and slicks and try something.

“Obviously at the time, it was totally the wrong decision but it did pay dividends later down the line, because when we had that safety car, at the restart I overtook three cars in one lap and was up to P11 before the incident with Mick.

“We had to try something but I think we showed we are making a lot of progress and that gives me optimism for the rest of the year.”

Despite a number of Safety Cars, the mixed conditions race was actually somewhat boring.

Overtaking appeared almost impossible around the 5km venue, with even Max Verstappen locking-up massively whilst trying to overtake Lando Norris for fourth.

Russell believes something needs to be done to make for “better racing and better overtaking”, as the Mercedes driver explained how he feels the Marina Bay Circuit could be improved to make overtaking easier.

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“On a circuit like this, Formula 1 cars are nigh-on impossible to overtake,” Russell said.

“I feel like Formula 1 has something to learn about these kinds of circuits where the only overtaking opportunities here and in Barcelona, the corner is too quick.

“You’re braking just after the 100 metre board into a 90-degree left. There’s enough space there [at Turn 7] to make it tighter in order to get better racing and better overtaking but I lunged from a long way back. If it had paid off, great, but it didn’t.”