22-year-old driver George Russell was twice the victim of tire problems during his first race for Mercedes at F1 Grand Prix Sakhir.
A close-up video showed Russell’s reaction after the race, as MercedesToto Wolff leader, Chief Engineer Peter Bonnington and Chief Strategy Officer James Vowles apologized to him on the radio.
Wolff, who rarely speaks on Mercedes radio, said: “George, I’m sorry about the incidents. You had a great race.” Vowles said: “Regardless of the results of the race, you did well. Your steering wheel is very solid. Every time you fall behind, you try to fight to get through. Good job.”
Russell replied, “Hi guys. I don’t want to say anything. It happened twice. To be honest, I was really disappointed and hurt by today’s incident. But here’s the chance and me. Hope we can catch it to learn from experience for the next time”.
Mercedes made a rare mistake when replacing Valtteri Bottas’ tires for Russell while calling the two drivers to pit to prepare for the sprint. By the time Russell returned to the track, Mercedes discovered this. They had to call the 22-year-old racer back to the pit again to change the tire.
But the bad luck for Russell didn’t end there. After racing more than 10 laps, the young driver is informed that there is a damaged position on his tire. Russell had to pit to change the tire again while he was attacking the leading driver Sergio Perez. These consecutive incidents made Russell ninth, gaining the first point in his career in F1, but his expression clearly showed his disappointment.
Lewis Hamilton was absent due to Covid-19, so he gave up the race to Russell – a young countryman from the Williams backyard team. There was no time to adapt to the W11, but Russell performed his best at two test runs on Friday, before taking second place and only 0.026 seconds behind teammate Bottas.
In the evening race of December 6, Russell overcame Bottas in the first corner and completely controlled the lead until the problem occurred. After being replaced with the wrong tire and had to change to another tire, Russell excellently overcame a series of racers to return to compete with Perez. This performance helped Russell be voted the best rider in the race even though it only finished ninth and only drove Mercedes for the first time in an F1 race.
Russell joined Mercedes in early 2017 under a youth driver training program. In 2019, Russell signed a race contract for Williams and is still in the team this year. He is considered the future of Mercedes after Hamilton retired.