“How he handled the pressure, that’s the harder thing to really predict”- Mercedes praises George Russell for his performance at Bahrain.
George Russell last weekend had the rare opportunity of driving for Mercedes, and the Briton who usually saw the worst of the grid immediately got a momentous promotion in the order, courtesy to the excellent pace of Mercedes.
Even Russell gave an excellent performance and for the most part of the race was leading the order and looked set to conquer the P1 podium, but fate had other plans. Despite this Mercedes was delighted with his performance.
Mercedes racetrack engineer Andrew Shovlin cited moments where Russell impressed the team as he managed to settle in the car in no time and challenged his opposite cars.
“Probably the thing that was least surprising was his speed in qualifying,” said Shovlin. “Because if you look at what he’d been doing in the Williams, clearly he knows how to drive a car quickly,” said Shovlin as per the Motorsport.
“And he knows how to get the most out of it. So that was not a complete shock to me, it was kind of what we were hoping to see, and what we were pleased that we did see.
“How he handled the pressure, that’s the harder thing to really predict, how he’s going to get on. But that was very impressive, actually, he really attacked the session.
“The risk – if this is one opportunity to show what you can do in a fast car – is it’s so easy to get it wrong. And it’s so easy to create lasting impressions.
“But clearly, he wasn’t thinking about that for a second. He really attacked the session. He was confident, he was disciplined. He was methodical in how he approached each run.
“At times, we were under pressure with both drivers in the early part of it. And he stayed calm, and that was nice to see. He’s clearly a very good racing driver
The team played an influential role in settling him down
Shovlin further explained that the support staff cooperated with Russell dedicatedly and helped him to gel in with the process and he made the most out of it.
“We were just trying to feed the information to him in a way that wasn’t going to overwhelm him,” he said. “We weren’t telling him things on Thursday night that he didn’t need to know until Sunday morning.”
“So we tried to have a sort of structured approach, as it’s quite a difficult thing for the drivers to jump from one team to another, one car to another.”
“And he obviously did a good job, and in some ways, our car will be easier than the Williams that he normally drives because it’s quite a nice handling car, there aren’t any major vices, it’s got a good grip. So in some ways that direction is easier.
“But the fact is the performance envelope of our car is much bigger. And you can brake later, you can get on the throttle sooner, you can be more aggressive with it, and the car will look after you and, and not catch you out as much as some others, and you can carry much more speed into corners. And it’s just sort of understanding that.
“And it takes more than one race to really build up a sort of full appreciation of what the car can do. One of the things that he was sort of chipping away at was just understanding how late you can actually brake for Turn 1, and how much speed you can carry into Turn 7 and 8.
“He’s done a good job, he’s approached that methodically. And importantly, he’s done it without going over the limit. Because you go over the limit, and then you can end up with some significant consequences.”