George Russel is off to a great start to this weekend’s Sakhir Grand Prix from Bahrain. George led both Free Practice sessions as a stand-in for the COVID-19 impacted Lewis Hamilton. He also led veteran teammate, Valtteri Bottas.
It was Max Verstappen second quickest in his Red Bull and Sergio Perez in his Racing Point in third.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff was quick to ask for calm with the F1 community buying about Russell’s performance:
“We need to calm everybody down, because it was a first session on a new and short circuit,” Wolff said.
“He delivered a really solid job, what we expected from him on a single lap.
“The long runs are difficult with all the cars anyway, and difficult to really establish a benchmark because Valtteri broke his car very early on in the session.
“He wasn’t really able to stop it properly. So I would say I’m happy with what George has done. It’s about what we expected him to.”
Russell did very well and Toto is right, racing is different than practicing but I would argue that George is currently racing in F1, understands traffic and might just surprise everyone.
I advocated last year that if I was at Mercedes, I would have moved George to the team this year instead of extending Valtteri’s contract for 2020. I was equally surprised they didn’t do that for 2021 but at the very least, George will put himself squarely in the shop window if he keeps this pace up over the weekend.
|2||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Honda||0.128s|
|3||Sergio Perez||Racing Point/Mercedes||0.153s|
|5||Alexander Albon||Red Bull/Honda||0.323s|
|7||Lance Stroll||Racing Point/Mercedes||0.391s|
|10||Carlos Sainz Jr.||McLaren/Renault||0.545s|
|12||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo/Ferrari||0.771s|
|13||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo/Ferrari||0.820s|