‘If Lewis Were to Jump in a Williams…’ – George Russell Opens up on Mercedes’ Expectations

Published 12/06/2020, 4:25 AM EST
Formula One F1 – Sakhir Grand Prix – Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain – Mercedes’ George Russell celebrates after qualifying in second position Pool via REUTERS/Tolga Bozoglu


George Russell is living the dream of every driver on the grid. When Lewis Hamilton contracted COVID-19 after the Bahrain GP, the FIA subsequently ruled him out for Sakhir GP.

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Hence, the Williams driver got the call from the Silver Arrows to replace him for the weekend. All eyes of the F1 world have been on him since then. Fans are expecting a tremendous performance from the highly-rated Englishman.

However, his mindset approaching this weekend has been positive. Team Principal Toto Wolff and Chief Strategist James Vowles have been important in taking the pressure off him, “Everyone at Mercedes, Toto, and James, they just said, ‘go out and enjoy it’.”

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Formula One F1 – Sakhir Grand Prix – Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain – Mercedes’ George Russell in the garage before practice FIA/Handout via REUTERS

The duo made it clear that there were no expectations from him, similar to if Lewis was to drive the Williams. He was informing the media members at the post-qualifying Press Conference of what they had said

“There’s zero expectation from you (Toto and James talking to Russell). If Lewis were to jump in a Williams, let’s say, it would be difficult, so we’re not expecting anything from you, and if you qualify first two rows, top five, top six, fine. You can still get a podium from there.”

But how is George Russell fairing?

Not bad at all. He qualified P2, just 20 milliseconds behind his teammate, Valtteri Bottas. This is way better than his team bosses would have hoped for, considering that they dampening the expectations before.

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Bottas has been pushing Hamilton and even beating him sometimes in qualifying over the years. Hence, to lock out the front row with him is Mercedes‘ dream scenario.

Though his team did not want him to worry about his performance, he sets himself high expectations, “Obviously, I always want to do well, I always want to be happy with my own performance.”

Formula One F1 – Sakhir Grand Prix – Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain – Mercedes’ George Russell in the garage before practice FIA/Handout via REUTERS

Though, the job is only half done. At the main race, he will have Max Verstappen breathing down at turn 1. The chance to win a race is rare. For a driver who has never even scored a single point, it is an enormous opportunity. Standing at the top of the podium will go a long way in earning a full-time Mercedes drive in the future.

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Bharat Aggarwal

754 articles

Bharat Aggarwal is a sports analyst for EssentiallySports, covering Formula 1 and NBA. A Delhi University graduate, Bharat has multi-year experience in sports writing, having closely worked with the content strategy aspect as well. Bharat Aggarwal supports Manchester United, Lewis Hamilton, Cristiano Ronaldo, Rafael Nadal, Dirk Nowitzki, Sachin Tendulkar, Ayrton Senna, Kristaps Porzingis, and Dallas Mavericks.

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