MX23RW : Saturday, January 23 01:55:44| >> :120:60668:60668:

Toto Wolff on George Russell: "A new star is born"

Toto Wolff on George Russell:
© Reuters
The Briton had looked on course for a win on his Mercedes debut.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said a "new star is born" following George Russell's supreme drive in Sunday's Sakhir Grand Prix.

Russell fought back the tears after he was twice robbed of a fairytale victory as Lewis Hamilton's stand-in at Mercedes and finished ninth.

The crestfallen Briton, 22, collapsed on the ground at the side of the Bahrain paddock following a race in which a pit-stop blunder – and then a puncture with just nine laps remaining – denied him a remarkable win on his Mercedes debut.

"I saw George in his room and it was very emotional because if you are in your first race in a Mercedes and you should have won it following a monumental drive, then there is not a lot you can say," said Wolff.

"It is not going to be his last attempt to win a race. It is just the beginning of a fairytale that didn't work out today, but I would say that a new star is born."

Russell, who switched his Williams for the fastest Formula One machine in history with seven-time world champion Hamilton sidelined after contracting coronavirus, had been in complete control of the penultimate round of the championship.

But his fine work was undone with 25 of the 87 laps remaining in the desert.

Russell was five seconds clear of team-mate Valtteri Bottas when Mercedes called both of their drivers in for new rubber after a safety car was deployed following a spin by rookie Jack Aitken. But Russell's pit crew did not hear the message.

When Russell arrived in his marks, Bottas' front tyres were put on the Briton's car. That meant Russell had to come into the pits again on the following lap, dropping him to fifth. Mercedes were later fined £18,000 for the rule breach.

Russell – with the bit between his teeth – wasted no time in moving up the order, passing Bottas, Lance Stroll and Esteban Ocon inside two mesmerising laps. He set about chasing Sergio Perez, taking more than one second out of the Racing Point man's lead, before he suffered a rear-left puncture.

Perez went on to win his maiden grand prix in his 190th appearance.

"I cannot really put it into words," said Russell, who had been a 3,000-1 outsider to triumph on Sunday before he was handed the keys to Hamilton's title-winning machine.

"Jumping out of the car, it wasn't a nice feeling to be honest. I have had races where I have had victories taken away from me, but twice? I just couldn't believe it.

"At one point I was eight seconds clear of Valtteri and I thought this is too good to be true and it turned out it was."

Russell could again be in the Mercedes cockpit in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, with Hamilton isolating after he returned a positive Covid-19 test last week.

However, Wolff said Hamilton is in contention to return for the season finale, providing he returns a negative result.


Click here for more stories about George Russell

Click here for more stories about Mercedes

Share this article now:
Did you know...?
Mercedes driver George Russell in action during the practice pool for the Sakhir Grand Prix on December 4, 2020
Read Next:
Russell 'gutted but proud' after near miss at Sakhir Grand Prix
Latest Sports Video

rhs 2.0
Todays Game Header Right
Premier League
FA Cup
Scottish Premiership
La Liga
Serie A
Ligue 1
Taca da Liga
League One
League Two
National League
National League North
National League South
Scottish League Cup
Scottish Championship
Scottish League One
Scottish League Two
Turkish Super Lig
Belgian Pro League
Greek Superleague
Swiss Super League
NIFL Premiership
Welsh Premier League
Segunda Division
Serie B
Ligue 2
Eerste Divisie
Copa Sudamericana
Uruguayan Primera Division
Liga MX
Australian A-League
Premier League 2 - Div 1
International Friendlies
Women's Super League
African Nations Championship

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Transfer Talk Daily
Match previews - twice weekly
Morning Briefing (7am UTC)
Ultra close-up image of Kevin De Bruyne [NOT FOR USE IN ARTICLES]Get the latest transfer news, match previews and news direct to your inbox!