George Russell will be making his full-time debut with Mercedes in 2022, but he has driven for the team for the first time at last year’s Sakhir Grand Prix. In that race he had replaced Lewis Hamilton who unfortunately tested positive for COVID-19.
The young driver put in a splendid performance and was on his way to winning the race, before a pit stop mix-up and a subsequent tyre failure relegated him to P9.
Although it was hugely disappointing at the time, Mercedes’ Gwen Lagrue says he believes it was for the best.
“He did everything he could of course to win that race, but didn’t,” Lagrue told GP Racing.
“In my eyes, which might sound stupid or crazy for many people, but I think it’s good that he didn’t win it.
“He won so many things that weekend, of course. But he still didn’t win the race, unfortunately for him and the team.
“But, in my eyes, into this process, making George a future world champion, it’s good that he didn’t win it.”
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Lagrue argues that through this hardship Russell learned to appreciate the amount of work it goes into being able to win, even in a dominant car.
“I think he realised the amount of work Lewis [Hamilton] and Valtteri [Bottas] do,” Lagrue continued.
“Maybe he was thinking that driving a Mercedes car, you have an advantage and it probably makes your life easier than the others because the level of performance at that time was a little bit higher than the others.
“He learned so much that year. And I think he was like a sponge in the garage, receiving all the information, paying attention to every single detail and he was projecting himself.
“[He thought] ‘OK, this will probably be my team in the future, so I need to know all the guys. I need to understand how they work.
“’They all love Lewis and Valtteri, so I need that myself and to make sure the team will be behind me’.”