Russell’s mother, sister ‘in tears’ over Sakhir agony

George Russell during his fateful Sakhir pit stop

George Russell has revealed that his mother and sister were left in tears after he was denied a maiden Formula 1 victory at the Sakhir Grand Prix.

Russell shone in his Mercedes debut deputising for compatriot Lewis Hamilton, with the Briton topping Friday practice and missing out on pole to experienced team-mate Valtteri Bottas by just 0.026s.

Russell won the start and outpaced Bottas in the race, before both drivers’ hopes were dashed following a bungled pit stop, which was triggered by a radio transmission failure.

He was forced to pit a lap later and quickly passed Bottas on track before chasing after eventual winner Sergio Perez.

However, a late puncture forced him in again, consigning him to ninth place and his first points finish in F1.

Russell cut a deflated figure in the paddock after the race, lying down in a garden bed before fronting the media to say he sought out a call from his parents.

Ahead of this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Russell said his family felt his agony from afar.

“My mum was in tears, bless her, afterwards, and my sister as well,” the 22-year-old said.

“We live this together, this sport, and it’s so passionate, emotions are so high.

“This was my first opportunity not just to win but to actually score points, and that was such a big difference.

“Having that taken away from us not once, but twice, was difficult.

“Having time to reflect on that weekend I’ve left with my head held high and (I’m) proud of the job I managed to achieve last weekend.”

Russell will return to his full-time Williams drive for this weekend’s season finale, with Hamilton recovering from his bout of COVID-19.

He also committed his short-term future to the Grove-based team despite suggestions he could move to Mercedes for the 2021 season.

Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff was in awe of Russell, who suffered with a car set-up for the smaller-in-stature Hamilton.

Russell, at five inches taller than Hamilton, had to wear race boots a size too small, use clutch paddles that were too small for his hands and fingers, and use a seat that had been moulded for him a year earlier.

“His racing was unbelievable,” Wolff said after the race.

“He got off the starting line with the best reaction time in a car that isn’t built for him, in a car that is much too small, with paddles that didn’t fit his hands, and he got into the lead and drove a brilliant race, and could have won twice.

“We learned that George Russell is somebody to count on in the future, he has all the potential and all the ingredients that a future star needs.

“I feel for George. We didn’t want to set expectations high, but he over-delivered and over-delivered and over-delivered.”

Free Practice 1 for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will commence on Friday at 2000 AEDT.

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