"It really bloody hurt," admits Russell


In as much as Sergio Perez standing on the top step of the podium in what could be one of his last F1 races was the fairy-tale F1 is sometimes about, George Russell's ninth was a cruel reminder of just how cruel and hurtful it can be.

Taking the lead in the first corner, the Briton held on to it for the next 45 laps, only relinquishing it when he made his scheduled pit stop.

Five laps later he was back in front and seemingly desting for a fairy-tale win of his own.

But on lap 62, fate intervened when Jack Aitken - his replacement at Williams - spun and in the process lost his front wing as he brushed the barriers.

When the Safety Car was deployed, although Russell and his teammate could have continued until the flag with their hards, Mercedes took the opportunity to pit them.

Time after time we have witnessed the well-oiled machine that is Mercedes double-stack its drivers with embarrassing ease, not so this time.

In a "colossal f*** up", in Toto Wolff's words, the team got it horribly wrong, a radio failure leading to a tyre mix-up that cost it certain victory and €20,000.

As a result Russell had to pit one lap later for the correct tyres, rejoining the race in fifth.

Undaunted, or totally fired up, the Briton staged a remarkable come-back, first passing his teammate (again), then Lance Stroll and Esteban Ocon, until all that remained was Sergio Perez.

Then came the call over the radio advising that he had a slow puncture and would need to pit again.

Pitting on lap 78 he rejoined the fray in 14th, and for a while it looked as if as well as being cruelly denied the win he might even walk away still to open his points account.

Told to forget the emotion and buckle down, the youngster fought his way back up to ninth, just over 3s behind his teammate, and on a day of fairy-tales had to settle for his own little catalogue of horror.

"I've had races where I've had victories taken away from me, but twice, I couldn't believe it," he admitted at race end. "I couldn't believe what was happening.

"I drove my heart out," he continued, a view with which surely nobody would disagree, "I had the race under control, especially in the beginning, and then obviously the safety car came out, which was annoying.

"But I felt comfortable," he added. "I put some good overtakes, I was fired up, I was ready to chase Sergio to get the win back, and it would have been tight, but we would have done it. And then it went away from us again. So that's racing.

"If you'd told me at the start of this weekend I would have scored some points, I'd have said right, that's going to be a pretty fantastic weekend!" he eventually laughed. "But if you'd told me I'd be leading the race, and then ended up… argh… I don't know...

"It really hurt," he admitted, "honestly, it really bloody hurt when I got out of the car. I spoke to my parents straightaway. I know they were feeling it. They said you've got so much to be proud of.

"Same with Toto and James (Vowles) and Bono," he added. "We hugged it out.

"Hopefully I've given Toto some problems to sort out for the future," he said of the Mercedes boss. "I'm happy. I'm proud."

And so he should be.

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Published: 07/12/2020
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