The announcement came mid-Wednesday that Williams’ George Russell would drive in place of Lewis Hamilton for Mercedes at the upcoming Sakhir GP. The 22-year-old was undoubtedly pleased to get the opportunity and would certainly look forward to it.
But how did Mercedes and Russell reach this decision? Russell explains how it all started off for him, which includes an awkward moment as well!
Speaking in the pre-race press conference, Russell stated, “I got a phone call from Toto at 2 AM on Tuesday morning. I was actually in the bathroom at that moment, which was slightly awkward!
“So he answered the phone, he said, ‘George, are you in the bathroom?’. I said, ‘Yeah, sorry, I am in the bathroom!’”
Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff had earlier described the talks with Williams to bring on Russell as ‘positive and pragmatic’. This was said, considering Williams were under no such obligation to release the young Briton from his duties with his existing team.
Russell continued and said, “He said, you know unfortunately Lewis has caught COVID. He’s doing well, he’s healthy and feels fine, which is most important. But we want you to drive.
“So right, okay, and then obviously a bit of sleepless night, and yeah, we sort of made it happen throughout the following day.
“And I counted yesterday, I had 64 phone calls on Tuesday, you know pinging between so many different people. So, glad we got there in the end,” concluded Russell on the topic.
While a win might sound far-fetched, there is an incredible chance for Russell to finish on the podium with the Mercedes W11. That would be a job well done, considering he is yet to earn his first points in his F1 career.
But for the time being, Russell would look to focus on attaining familiarity with the new car. And adjusting to the different mechanisms.
Regardless, it is certainly a fantastic opportunity for him to display his credentials as the rightful successor to Hamilton’s seat in the future.