Toto Wolff Reveals Reason behind George Russell’s Unfortunate Late Tire Puncture in Sakhir GP

Published 12/07/2020, 1:22 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 was having a fairytale race at Sakhir Grand Prix till everything came falling down for him. Russell was replacing Lewis Hamilton in Mercedes after the champion was tested COVID positive earlier last week.

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He had a strong qualifying session. He stood at P2, just a couple of milliseconds behind his teammate Valtteri Bottas. However, the young Briton overtook Bottas going into turn 1 of the starting lap.

Mercedes suffered a pit-stop fiasco. However, Russell fought back bravely till his left rear gave up and the race win slipped away from his hands. Mercedes boss, Toto Wolff, revealed that the puncture resulted from aggressive overtakes.

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He said, “the slow puncture probably came from him having to run off the line so many times in order to overtake.

“As for the race win? I don’t know. I think our planner said he would catch up to Sergio and maybe DRS would have helped us, but I’m not sure [if he would have won].”

WATCH – Mercedes Pitstop Blunder Costs George Russell Dearly During Sakhir GP

Formula One F1 – Sakhir Grand Prix – Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain – December 5, 2020 Mercedes’ George Russell in the garage during practice FIA/Handout via REUTERS

What happened with Mercedes’ double-stack fiasco?

In his first appearance for Mercedes, George Russell dominated most of the race. However, a decision to box in during a safety car on lap 59 went horribly wrong for Mercedes. The team tried to double-stack the cars and suffered a terrible blow.

Russell came out of the pit stop on P1. However, the team realized that he was sent in on a wrong set of tires and had to call him again. He came back out on P5 with a fighting spirit. He proceeded and overtook Bottas, Stroll, and Ocon. However, he was chasing down Perez as his left rear gave up and had a puncture.

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Toto Wolff explained, “What happened is that when we called the pit crews out, they get a call on the radios and bring the right tyres out.

“One side of the garage, George’s side, didn’t hear the pit call,” he continued.

“We had a radio that didn’t function, and then the wrong guys with the wrong tyres came out.”

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As a result of the mixup, George Russell came back out on P5 before the tire puncture took away a podium finish. The Briton still managed to score his first-ever Formula 1 point. However, he was absolutely gutted at not making the most of this opportunity. We will find out later this week whether Russell gets another shot at Mercedes or if he’ll have to go back to Williams for the next race.

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Ayush Manjunath

586 articles

Ayush Manjunath is a Formula 1 author for EssentiallySports with more than 500 articles to his name. A Law graduate and a current Sports Management student, Ayush also has a certificate from UCLA on Sports, Media and Entertainment Management. He has an undying love for motorsports and lives to see Max Verstappen, George Russell, Charles Leclerc, and Lando Norris battle for the championship one day!

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