“It is very strange that it has taken so long” – Former F1 driver Robert Doornbos has revealed why George Russell was rejected an option over Lewis Hamilton by Mercedes during the contract extension deadlock.
Lewis Hamilton has finally signed the Mercedes 2021 contract, and according to Robert Doornbos, George Russell played a part in it! Speaking to Motorsport.com, Robert Doornbos feels George Russell’s body structure meant he could not be in the Mercedes this year. He still will be in a Mercedes, but the one they are powering for Williams.
“It is very strange that it has taken so long. But you could count on the fact that it had to be okay because Mercedes was of course already well on the way with building the car for this year.”
“You saw when Russell got into Sakhir, that the car was not optimal for his taller body. Then you have a too-tight monocoque and that cannot be remedied just like that. You couldn’t solve this with a different pair of shoes or a different set of pedals.
“In my time at Red Bull, this was also a thing. When Mark Webber joined the team, the chassis had to be adjusted to suit its height. So getting Russell became at a certain point a thing of the past for Mercedes.”
So Lewis Hamilton signs a one-year deal. Surely he’ll break the record and call it quits. Can’t see him staying past 2021, which would be sad but would hopefully open the door for George Russell.
— Jack (@jacko_dale) February 8, 2021
George Russell a future Mercedes star in the making
Doornbos also spoke highly of Russell and about his legendary performance for Mercedes in the Sakhir GP. And though he would not have been brought in for Hamilton, this did force Hamilton’s hand to put pen-to-paper.
“In the back of Mercedes’ mind, it will play a role that they had to keep the door ajar for Russell. I sincerely think that it [Russell’s Sakhir performance] has led to new insights at Mercedes. Russell went really fast in that car too.
“I’m not saying he can become seven-time World Champion like Hamilton. But it will certainly have done something in the negotiations.”