Both Mercedes drivers made a late pit stop for Pirelli’s medium tires as they looked to challenge eventual race winners Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris on their older tyres.
But when Russell sat at the back of the second-placed McLaren on the 62nd and final lap, Norris crashed into the outside wall. The pursuing Russell did likewise, but made much stronger contact to damage the W14 and then slam the spear head first into the barriers.
The dramatic turnaround promoted teammate Lewis Hamilton to third, while Russell, who started from second and could have been in contention for the win, is classified 16th.
Russell said he wanted to “curl in the ball.”
“At the moment, you just want to sit in a ball and not be with anyone. It’s the most terrible feeling in the world when you’re physically and mentally exhausted,” he said.
“We missed a chance to win and then made such a mistake, it’s really heartbreaking.”
Despite the huge error, Russell believed that on reflection, he was now producing one of the best performances of his Formula 1 career.
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14, George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL60
Photography: Andy Hone / Motorsport pictures
He continued: “I have to be honest now, standing here an hour later, it’s been an amazing weekend. I really think I’m riding better than ever.”
“I felt confident and comfortable and I wasn’t going to let a two-centimetre mistake knock me down. I’m going to have a tough night and a tough morning but I’m going to put it behind me and get back up again.
“I can only apologize to the team because they deserved more, but something bad happened.”
Russell added that his mistake could be attributed to a lack of concentration, as the Briton got out of his groove after realizing victory had eluded him.
He continued: “It was not a mistake. If I had swerved and had a lock, it would have been a completely different story but I hit the wall on the last lap.”
“It’s a pathetic mistake and that’s why it seems so strange now.
“Maybe it was a lack of concentration… It was the last lap and I realized the opportunity was gone.
“It shows you need to stick with it. It doesn’t matter what the scenario is.”
“Coffee ninja. Web fan. Hipster-friendly beer enthusiast. Professional creator.”