Lewis Hamilton’s substitute George Russell can still hardly believe his unexpected promotion to the Formula 1 Mercedes. “It means a lot to me that Mercedes gave me this chance. So much had to happen in such a short time. That they were ready to do that makes me very proud, ”said the Briton on Thursday before the penultimate round of the season in Bahrain. The 22-year-old replaces world champion Hamilton at least on Sunday at the race in Sakhir because the superstar is out due to a corona infection.
Hamilton had tested positive on Monday and therefore had to go into a ten-day quarantine. After some negotiations, the Williams team released its regular driver Russell. The young pilot comes from the Mercedes junior program. “It’s been an intense 48 hours,” said Russell. Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff called him on Tuesday morning at 2 a.m. After that, a new helmet and racing suit had to be flown in for Russell.
It’s been a crazy year for Russell
“Fairy tale is the wrong word for it. That was not how I had imagined my first experience in a Mercedes racing car, ”said Russell. It was a crazy year, he added. He wrote a message of encouragement to Hamilton, but has not heard from him since. “I am sure it will be a tough time for him. We have a good relationship and I’m sure we’ll talk to each other over the weekend, ”said Russell.
It is still unclear whether Hamilton can return in a week in Abu Dhabi in time for the season finale. For Russell, 25-year-old Briton Jack Aitken will make his Formula 1 debut at the Williams in Sakhir.