George Russell almost gave his Mercedes mechanics a huge repair job ahead of qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix, after nearly crashing into the back of a slowly moving Pierre Gasly during FP3.
Russell came across the AlphaTauri driver whilst on a hot lap during the dry session, which was the drivers first opportunity to get to grips with Suzuka in slick conditions, following two wet sessions on Friday.
The incident occurred at the Turn Nine hairpin as Russell flew round Turn Eight, where the light changes due to going underneath the circuit.
As the Mercedes driver quickly approached Turn Nine, he came across a slow-moving Gasly, who remained on the racing line.
Russell quickly got on the brakes and clearly used all of his skill to avoid hitting the rear of the AT03, which would’ve caused heavy damage to both driver’s cars.
Russell did end up locking-up, in what was certainly a massive near-miss.
“Almost crashed into the back of Gasly,” said a shaken-up Russell over the team radio.
The incident was discussed among Sky Sports F1’s commentators, which included, ex-F1 drivers Karun Chandhok and Jenson Button.
“Should Gasly have been on the inside… could he have been on the inside?” commentator David Croft asked the duo whilst watching a replay of the incident.
“Yeah, or just going a little faster there because it’s a blind sector right?” replied Chandhok.
“Gasly wouldn’t have seen George.
“I think as a driver, if you’re in that part of the track in the blind area and you can’t see someone on a fast lap, go a little bit quicker and just get out of the way,” Chandhok concluded.
Button, who retired more recently than Chandhok at the end of 2016, had nothing to add on what his co-pundit said.
“I totally agree,” revealed the 2009 World Champion.
Qualifying was thankfully a lot smoother for Russell, albeit still somewhat unsuccessful.
Despite looking strong in the wet conditions on Friday, Mercedes appeared to be much further off the leading pace in the dry conditions on Saturday.
The 24-year-old qualified in P8, and finished the race in the same position.
Meanwhile, Mercedes team-mate Sir Lewis Hamilton crossed the finish line in fifth after a race-long battle with Esteban Ocon.