Russell frustrated by mysterious handling issue in F1 Singapore GP qualifying

George Russell was left frustrated after a mysterious handling issue during qualifying for Formula 1's Singapore Grand Prix saw him fail to progress to Q3 and left him stranded 11th on the grid.

Russell frustrated by mysterious handling issue in F1 Singapore GP qualifying

Russell struggled on the tricky damp track throughout the first two qualifying sessions with a Mercedes that felt like it was pushing on when he braked for corners.

He experienced a similar phenomenon on Friday, when he went straight on at the same corner in both the FP1 and FP2 sessions, and nosed into the barrier.

"I had a recurring issue that we faced in FP1 where I kind of felt every time I got to the corner, I was kind of like picking up the throttle,” he said when asked by Autosport what had gone wrong.

“And the car was just totally pushing on. I think we see this issue on the data. But it got progressively worse as qualifying continued.

"So I couldn't get around any of the slow speed corners. It was literally like someone was trying to push me from behind. So that was a that was a real shame."

George Russell, Mercedes W13

George Russell, Mercedes W13

Photo by: Lionel Ng / Motorsport Images

Asked if the team knew what the cause was he said: "I don't know, to be honest. As I jumped out of the car, my engineer said we see something on the data.

“But it was there from the very first lap in qualifying, but it just got progressively worse. So yeah, really frustrating considering how quick the car has been around here, and how quick our race pace was."

Russell was adamant not a throttle issue, or a case of him inadvertently touching the pedal.

"No, it wasn't anything to do with the throttle," he said. "That was the feeling, as if I was picking up the throttle into the corner.

"Braking, it was kind of like I was picking up the throttle before the apex, and washing out. I don't know what the issue is, but we were nowhere."

Asked if the problem was the cause of his two incidents in practice he added: "Well, I don't know. They both felt very odd to me. I don't want to point blame somewhere else.

“But it's something that I've never, ever noticed before, and never felt before. And it was clearly there in FP1 in my opinion. And as soon as I went out in qualifying something wasn't right.

"The grip was feeling really strong, every time I got to a corner, I just completely let go of the brake. And I was just going straight on everywhere. I just couldn't make it round any corners."

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Russell admitted that the problem was especially frustrating as Mercedes has always viewed Singapore as one of its stronger tracks, as evidenced by Lewis Hamilton’s form in qualifying.

"Regardless of how the performance is you never want to be starting P11 in a Grand Prix when you've got the car to be fighting for victory. There's been a safety car every single time we've been here.

"It's hopefully going to be a couple of pitstops as we need to try and do something different to our rivals. But it won't be a straightforward race."

On the plus side Russell said there was evidence that Mercedes is continuing to get on top of its bouncing issues.

"I think the pace we have this weekend goes to show that the improvements we've made throughout the season in terms of the aero and in terms of the ride.

"For sure, we're a long way from where we want to be in that regard, but we've definitely made some big progress. So that's positive.

"But I'm standing here now when we should have been fighting for pole position. And unfortunately, it didn't work out today."

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