Formula 1: Woes continue for 2023’s most disappointing driver

George Russell, Mercedes, Singapore, Formula 1 (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
George Russell, Mercedes, Singapore, Formula 1 (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) /

George Russell literally throwing away a podium finish and potential win in Singapore is the most recent lowlight of a disappointing 2023 Formula 1 season.

While the 2022 Formula 1 season was largely dominated by Red Bull and Max Verstappen, it was George Russell who took the sport by storm by walking into Mercedes and handily beating seven-time world champion teammate Lewis Hamilton.

Of the 22 races on last year’s schedule, the only race after which Russell found himself behind Hamilton in the standings was the Bahrain opener, and he secured the German manufacturer their only win of the season at Interlagos.

Russell became the first teammate to beat Hamilton in the world championship standings since Nico Rosberg beat him to the 2016 title, and he did it by finishing two spots ahead of him.

Not since Jenson Button beat Hamilton in 2011 had Hamilton been beaten by a non-championship-winning (that season) teammate, and not since the same season had he been beaten by more than one position. Never before had Hamilton been beat by a non-championship-winning teammate.

Bottom line, Russell’s future looked bright, especially as Mercedes eyed a bounce back season in 2023.

But after being billed as a dark horse title contender, George Russell simply hasn’t lived up to expectations throughout the 2023 Formula 1 season.

Through 15 races, he finds himself in seventh place in the driver standings, ahead of only Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll among the sport’s top four teams. His season highlights are a fastest lap in Baku and a single podium finish in Spain. Hamilton, meanwhile, sits third in points with five podium finishes, three fastest laps, and a pole.

But for as far as Russell has been behind Hamilton this year, even having outqualified him eight races to seven, things reached rock bottom in Singapore.

Russell ran ahead of Hamilton all race (aside from Hamilton discovering new territory with his alternative lap one route) and was positioned for a potential victory after making a late pit stop for new tires ahead of his teammate while the top three stayed out.

Russell and Hamilton made quick work of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, and they rapidly closed in on McLaren’s Lando Norris in second place. Russell was unable to execute a pass, which made Hamilton’s life more difficult, and on the final lap, he crashed out, throwing away what would have been a season-best result.

For Hamilton, it was too little, too late, as he settled for third place behind Norris and Carlos Sainz Jr., with the latter’s Ferrari becoming the first non-Red Bull winner of the year.

Hamilton now finds himself leading his teammate 180-109 in the point standings, with Russell having already been mathematically eliminated from championship contention.

What makes things even worse for Russell is the fact that, following Verstappen’s disastrous 11th place qualifying effort, he found himself as the betting favorite to win a race for the first time in his Formula 1 career.

And that’s unfortunately how it ended.

Russell understandably felt terrible afterward, not just for throwing away the result but for letting the team down on what was such a strong weekend for the organization as a whole.

However, Mercedes came to their driver’s defense and supported him following the incident. Bad races happen, down seasons happen, and everybody is ready to move on.

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Russell is set to try to bounce back in Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka Circuit, which is set to be broadcast live on ESPN beginning at 12:55 a.m. ET. Begin a free trial of FuboTV now and don’t miss it!