George Russell may have proved Max Verstappen’s theory about Lewis Hamilton correct during his impressive stint leading the Sakhir Grand Prix on Sunday. The 22-year-old was cruelly denied his first F1 win when Mercedes made a huge error during a double-stacked pit stop.
With 60 of the 87 laps already passed, Mercedes took the chance to box both drivers, who were in the front two positions, under a virtual safety car.
But they made a monumental mistake as Valtteri Bottas’ tyres were attached to Russell’s car.
That meant Russell had to pit again on the following lap while Bottas’ engineers spent an age trying to remember where they had put the tyres.
To make matters worse, Russell got a puncture as he was trying to fight his way back through the grid meaning he needed another pit stop.
The youngster battled admirably to score the first three points of his career with a ninth-placed finish – but he should have had much more.
Russell’s performance in Bahrain must have given Wolff food for thought over a potential Mercedes seat in the future.
It has also backed up Verstappen’s theory that “90 percent of the field could win in that car”.
The Red Bull star has previously thrown shade on Hamilton’s success by claiming the Brit only wins so many titles because he has the best equipment.
Mercedes have dominated F1 over the last seven years, winning both the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championship since 2014.
“I have a lot of respect for what they’ve achieved. I’m not frustrated about Lewis in a Mercedes car,” Verstappen recently said.
“To be honest. Nothing against Lewis, he’s a great driver, but the car is so dominant.”
Russell proved an element of Verstappen’s comments were right as he had not won a single point from the previous 15 races while driving for Williams.
But when he stepped into Hamilton’s car he comfortably led the field and should have secured a maiden victory.
Nothing should be taken away from Russell’s performance as he also pulled off a series of brilliant overtakes following the tyre mix-up.
The late puncture proved detrimental to his efforts and he slid back down the standings.
However, one thing is for sure – Russell grasped this opportunity with both hands and proved he is ready to take on the best.