Manama – George Russell was left with mixed emotions after losing out on an almost certain maiden Formula One win on his Mercedes debut in Sunday’s Sakhir Grand Prix.
Russel, 22, standing in for Lewis Hamilton after the seven-times champion tested positive for Covid-19, looked at home in his compatriot’s car as he wrested the lead from pole-sitting teammate Valtteri Bottas and set a commanding pace.
However, a pitstop mix-up set him back and a subsequent puncture dashed his hopes for good.
“Obviously, on the one hand incredibly disappointed and gutted to miss out on a victory, not only once but twice it went away from us,” said Russell, who finished 9th, to reporters on a Zoom call at the floodlit Bahrain International Circuit after the race.
“So part of me is gutted, part of me very proud and privileged to get this opportunity.”
Mercedes-backed Russel, who is in only his second season in Formula One, usually races for the German marque’s engine customer Williams where he has placed to learn the ropes.
The Grove-based squad are last in the overall standings and Russell, who until Sunday had not scored a Formula One point, had not expected to be able to overhaul the team’s regular driver and four-year Mercedes veteran Valtteri Bottas.
Russel said he hoped he had given team boss Toto Wolff a headache with his performance on Sunday.
“The best way to do your talking is on track,” he said.