Hence, the Williams driver got the call from the Silver Arrows to replace him for the weekend. All eyes of the F1 world have been on him since then. Fans are expecting a tremendous performance from the highly-rated Englishman.
However, his mindset approaching this weekend has been positive. Team Principal Toto Wolff and Chief Strategist James Vowles have been important in taking the pressure off him, “Everyone at Mercedes, Toto, and James, they just said, ‘go out and enjoy it’.”
The duo made it clear that there were no expectations from him, similar to if Lewis was to drive the Williams. He was informing the media members at the post-qualifying Press Conference of what they had said –
“There’s zero expectation from you (Toto and James talking to Russell). If Lewis were to jump in a Williams, let’s say, it would be difficult, so we’re not expecting anything from you, and if you qualify first two rows, top five, top six, fine. You can still get a podium from there.”
But how is George Russell fairing?
Not bad at all. He qualified P2, just 20 milliseconds behind his teammate, Valtteri Bottas. This is way better than his team bosses would have hoped for, considering that they dampening the expectations before.
Bottas has been pushing Hamilton and even beating him sometimes in qualifying over the years. Hence, to lock out the front row with him is Mercedes‘ dream scenario.
Though his team did not want him to worry about his performance, he sets himself high expectations, “Obviously, I always want to do well, I always want to be happy with my own performance.”
Though, the job is only half done. At the main race, he will have Max Verstappen breathing down at turn 1. The chance to win a race is rare. For a driver who has never even scored a single point, it is an enormous opportunity. Standing at the top of the podium will go a long way in earning a full-time Mercedes drive in the future.