George Russell said the bad experience at the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix in which he replaced Lewis Hamilton for the race made him a stronger driver.
The 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix was unprecedented – Williams’ George Russell was allowed, by his team, to replace a Covid-positive Hamilton for the weekend, a chance the British rising star couldn’t deny in order to prove himself to the big teams.
The weekend went by and Russell had shown to the world what he is capable of – achieving a second-place finish during qualifying for the main event, and only by a few tenths to temporal-teammate Valtteri Bottas.
Russell then took the lead of the race but a series of complications meant he would miss out on his first possible victory (and podium), as Mercedes had an error during his pit stop as the Safety Car went out due to an incident with a Williams at the back, meaning Hamilton’s replacement would lose a lot of time, dropping back through the field. He then went on to finish the race in P9, scoring 3 points (1 additional for the fastest lap) for himself and Mercedes in the championship.
Looking back at the race now that he’s a Mercedes driver, Russell said it helped him to be a stronger driver.
“I want to be the most complete driver possible and I want to look back in 20 years’ time and say, ‘That was an incredibly strong career. Every single outcome had a reason behind it and that made me a stronger driver’,” Russell told Crash.net.
“I believe that race in Bahrain, losing that victory, will make me a stronger driver. In a way, it would have been too much of a fairytale to have won and I probably wouldn’t have appreciated the achievement if that had happened.”
However, losing out on his first victory wasn’t the only disappointment Russel has faced through the last few years of his participation in Formula 1.
“It wasn’t just the Mercedes experience, but there were other experiences as well, and dealing with and bouncing back from disappointment is part of life and part of competitive sport.
“You know a championship isn’t won or lost in one race, it’s won over the course of a season. You will always have disappointing race weekends, you’ll have failures, you’ll have success. But if you don’t bounce back from those disappointments, learning from it, and equally just moving on and going from there.
“I think people who have it easy throughout their career, throughout their life, when they do face these disappointments, they struggle to deal with it and probably aren’t able to bounce back as quickly.
“And that’s why I’m grateful that I’ve been in this position on a number of occasions, to make me more resilient. I would have loved to win that race [Sakhir 2020], but that’s not what I want my career to be remembered by.”