A disconsolate George Russell was left to ponder the one that got away after a crash late in the Singapore Grand Prix cost him a shot at victory.
Mercedes had opted for a bold strategy of bringing both Russell and Lewis Hamilton into the pits for new tyres following a virtual safety car.
It looked like a master stroke as the pair rapidly made their way up to the top two in Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris only for Russell, himself under pressure from Hamilton, to make his costly error and end up in the barriers.
Following the last-lap mishap, Russell said: “In the moment, you want to curl up in a ball and be with nobody. It is the most horrendous feeling in the world when you are so physically and mentally drained and you miss out on an opportunity for victory. I made a mistake. It is truly heartbreaking.”
It proved a thrilling race with four drivers capable of taking the victory until virtually the final moments of a race, which also proved the first won by anyone other than a Red Bull driver this season.
Normal service is set to be resumed in Japan at the weekend for Max Verstappen and Red Bull after the team were undone by the anomalies of the Singapore street circuit, which meant they struggled in qualifying and on the hard tyres.
For Russell, it was likely his best and maybe only shot at victory in 2023 as Sainz took the chequered flag ahead of Norris with Hamilton in third.
After hitting the barrier at turn 10, Russell fired out a series of expletives in the wake of his error.
Afterwards, he said: “I had half a chance with Lando. Half-a-car’s length difference and I think we would have won the race. I would have got ahead of Lando and Carlos would have been stuck without DRS and I would have gone by him.
“Instead, I ended the race in the wall. I don’t know how it happened. Maybe a lack of concentration, frustration knowing that was the last lap and the opportunity had gone. A one-centimetre mistake has clouded the whole weekend.
“It was such a nothing of a mistake. To clip the wall on the last lap is such a pathetic mistake, which is why it feels so strange right now. I feel like I let myself and the team down. I can only apologise to the team because they deserved more.”