It was a United States Grand Prix to forget for George Russell, but more so for Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, whose race at the Circuit of the Americas lasted about half a corner.
Sainz claimed an emphatic pole position on Saturday and looked like the odds-on favourite to battle Max Verstappen for victory, something which would’ve been the Spaniard’s second of the year had he claimed glory.
Unfortunately for Sainz, his season was summed up by the first corner, “very poor”.
Sainz’s luck this year has been woeful to say the least, and it didn’t improve at COTA, as the Ferrari driver was hit at the first corner by Russell, which spun the 28-year-old round.
The Spaniard dropped to the back and brought his Ferrari back to the pits, where he retired from the race.
In all fairness to Russell, there wasn’t a lot he could do to avoid Sainz.
Sainz’s start wasn’t the greatest and was left on the outside of Turn One, before attempting to cut underneath Verstappen.
This resulted in the Spanish driver cutting across the front of Russell, who had nowhere to go.
The retirement was staggeringly Sainz’s sixth of the season, with the driver having not “many words” following yet another DNF.
“I think you don’t need many words,” Sainz said to Sky Sports F1.
“You just need the images to see exactly what happened, and the images speak for themselves.
“I was in the middle of a fight with Max into Turn 1 and suddenly one guy that wasn’t in the battle came from nowhere and bumped into me, so that’s it.”
Russell was awarded a five-second time penalty for hitting Sainz, which he served during his opening pit-stop.
The former Williams driver went on to have a “difficult afternoon”, where Russell brought his W13 home to finish fifth.
After the race he did accept responsibility for the collision and revealed that he “went to see” Sainz to apologise.
“Firstly, apologies to him,” Russell said to Sky Sports F1.
“We’re all going into Turn 1 attacking, you never want to be involved in contributing to taking somebody else’s race out.
“I was expecting him to try to go around the outside of Max rather than cut back, and by that point I’d already committed and it was kind of inevitable that I was going to make contact.
“I just went to see him and apologised for that.
“From there on it was a really difficult afternoon for me personally. I’ve been really off the pace this weekend. I know there was some damage, but I don’t know how much damage there was exactly to the car.
“It will give me a bit of peace of mind if it’s more than we first anticipated, because I was nowhere this afternoon.”
The result summed up what’s been a challenging few rounds for Russell, who’s starting to get somewhat of a reputation for colliding with other drivers.
Russell has now failed to score big points at three races in a row, after finishing outside the points at Singapore, only just inside the points at Suzuka, and then fifth in Austin, Texas.
It has somewhat overshadowed how good a season the Brit has had in what is a very difficult car to deal with, with Russell admitting himself that it’s been a “pretty scrappy” few weeks.
“These last three weekends have been pretty scrappy for various reasons,” Russell said.
“We had the weather conditions in Singapore, equally the weather in Japan, we then had the tyre testing here in Austin, with the wind being really gusty.
“These are factors but ultimately it comes down to probably driving, psychological, and having that confidence in the car and yourself.”