Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes finally put the F1 community to rest after they announced a one-year extension on February 8. The decision came unusually late and everyone was busy speculating whether George Russell would claim that vacant seat at the Silver Arrows.
However, Robert Doornbos, former Red Bull and Minardi driver, clarified that it was always going to be Hamilton. The former F1 driver pointed out that the Mercedes had begun building their cars and that essentially ruled out George Russell’s Brackley squad option for 2021.
“Mercedes was of course already well on the way with building the car for this year.
“You saw when Russell got into Sakhir, that the car was not optimal for his taller body. You then have a too tight monocoque and that cannot be remedied just like that,” explained Doornbos.
Bottas and Hamilton are roughly the same height. However, Russell is around four inches taller than the champion. In Bahrain, due to the sudden need for him to replace Hamilton, the Williams driver drove the race wearing a smaller shoe.
There were no changes in the measurement of the 2021 car, and Russell could not possibly do the whole season wearing a smaller pair of shoes.
Doornbos pointed out that a different pair of shoes or the size of the pedals wouldn’t solve the problem either. Hence, there was no chance for a sudden driver change.
The former Red Bull driver clarified that while Mercedes was negotiating a one-year contract, they had Russell in the back of their mind. He further shared that the young Briton’s one-weekend stand with Mercedes must’ve played a role in Hamilton‘s contract negotiations.
“In the back of Mercedes’ mind it will also play a role that they had to open the door ajar for Russell.
“Russell went really fast in that car too. I’m not saying he can become seven-time world champion like Hamilton. But it will certainly have done something in the negotiations,” he said.
Ultimately, the end of the 2021 season spells out two seats for George Russell. His contract with Williams will end, and he will hope that he lands one of the empty seats at Mercedes.
Russell had me on my toes throughout the Sakhir Grand Prix, and I cannot wait for another drive like that one.
Would you like to see Russell drive for Mercedes in 2022? Start tweeting it to Mercedes! If you’re lucky, you might even get a humorous reply!