For the first time since 2007, Lewis Hamilton will not be on a Formula 1 grid. The FIA has ruled him out for at least this race weekend because of his positive COVID test in Bahrain. So, his English counterpart, George Russell, will take his place in the other ‘W11’ for the 2020 Sakhir GP.
All eyes in F1 are on young George, who is yet to score a single point in his career. Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner drew parallels to when they promoted Max Verstappen in the middle of the season. He won in his very first race at the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix.
Assessing Russell’s chances; he said, “He’s been a test driver there before, he knows many of the people and it’s the best car currently in Formula 1. It’s won the most races this year, it’s an enormous opportunity for him and one that I’m sure that he’s looking to make great use of.”
Horner thinks that his counterpart at Mercedes, Toto Wolff, will use this to negotiate Hamilton’s next contract with them. The seven-time World Champion’s current deal expires at the end of this season.
Seeing his credentials with the team, he will likely demand the biggest payday in F1 history. Since he has been outperforming his teammate, if Russell also manages to do so in his debut race, it may not look like a big deal.
“It benchmarks him against Valtteri. I’m sure Toto’s looking to use it to perhaps negotiate Lewis’s contract in some way, shape, or form. So it will be fascinating to see how it plays out, but it’s great to see another youngster getting that chance and opportunity.”
The Williams’ loanee can be the future of the Silver Arrows. Hamilton has been giving indications that he may be ready to walk away from the sport very soon. Hence, it’s important for them that George performs well this weekend.
He has already shown glimpses of his talent at Williams, winning every qualifying against his teammates ever since his F1 debut, and beating Valtteri this weekend will do his chances no harm. Toto and the whole Mercedes group will watch this race weekend with their eyes fully open.