Back To Front For Russell

Back To Front For Russell

George Russell is The Golden Child.

His name above the Mercedes-AMG garage in Bahrain, headed by his #63 racing number, proves it.

When Lewis Hamilton punches his personal parachute to end his time at Mercedes-AMG, it’s the tall and talented Brit who will be left in the driving seat.

Benz boss Toto Wolff could have picked almost anyone to fill the #44 seat while Hamilton is benched with a (convenient) case of Covid, and both Sergio Perez and super-sub Nico Hulkenberg have done more than enough through season 2020 with Mercedes motivation in their Racing Points.

But he chose to pluck Russell from the back of the grid – nearly – and out of his miserably slow Williams for some front-line experience in what amounts to a dead rubber for the Black Arrows.

So there is effectively zero pressure on the team’s new rookie, despite his reputation as ‘mister Saturday’ after dragging some unlikely qualifying successes out of the Williams this year.

He won’t see if that way, and neither will Valtteri Bottas, and will be targeting a podium in the desert.

But the end result doesn’t matter, provided Russell is clean and quick and shows that when the time is right – most likely for the start of season 2022 – he will be ready for the job.

“I am optimistic that he will deliver a strong performance alongside Valtteri, who will be a demanding reference for him,” says Wolff.

“It will not be a straightforward task for George to make the transition from the Williams to the W11, but he is race-ready and has detailed understanding of the 2020 tyres and how they perform on this generation of cars. George has shown impressive form this year with Williams, playing an instrumental role in their climb up the grid.”

He becomes only the fifth driver to race for the team since its return to F1 – Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg were earlier starters – and it’s highly likely that he could continue in Hamilton’s slot for Abu Dhabi if the world champion continues his Covid isolation.