George Russell admitted he was “absolutely gutted” after an incredible – yet heartbreaking – Mercedes debut at the Sakhir GP finished without a deserved maiden Formula 1 win, one that was “taken away twice” from Lewis Hamilton’s stand-in in dramatic circumstances. Mercedes, meanwhile, praised the British youngster and have revealed that the “colossal” pit-stop error – the first of two huge tyre blows to Russell’s chances as Sergio Perez won a thriller in Bahrain – was caused by “radio failure”.
“Guys. I don’t know what to say,” Russell said on team radio. “That was taken away from us twice. Honestly. It’s been a pleasure and I’ve loved it and honestly, I’m gutted. I’m absolutely gutted.”
“I can’t really put it into words, to be honest. Jumping out of the car… it wasn’t a nice feeling. I’ve had races where I’ve had victories taken away from me, but twice? I just couldn’t believe it.” Russell said postrace. “I gave it everything I had. I was managing the race at the start, I felt confident, comfortable, managing the gap to Valtteri. Then obviously we had the muddle up in the pit-stop, that put us on the back foot, I had to overtake. I think we still could have caught Sergio, we had such a tyre advantage, the car was so quick. Gutted.”
Russell, who may be back in the Williams at next weekend’s Abu Dhabi GP if Hamilton tests negative for Covid-19, insisted he was still “incredibly proud” and refused to blame Mercedes for his woes. “It’s a team sport,” he said. “We’re all in it together. Sometimes a driver messes up, I have once or twice this year, sometimes it goes the other way. We learn from these things. It was an incredibly late call to pit, the Safety Car came out seconds before I came in. Obviously, we got the tyres muddled up. The silver lining, I guess I got my first points in F1!”