George Russell is “gutted” about missing out on pole position for the Sakhir GP but Daniel Ricciardo says it is “probably a blessing in disguise”.
Russell is racing for Mercedes this weekend, called up to fill in for Lewis Hamilton after the reigning World Champion recorded a positive Covid-19 test.
Swapping from a back-of-the-grid car to a championship-winning one, Russell qualified second at Bahrain’s outer track, missing out by 0.026s.
He was gutted.
Really happy to be lining up P2 but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t gutted to miss pole by just 20 milliseconds!
— George Russell (@GeorgeRussell63) December 5, 2020
Ricciardo, though, feels is was probably a good thing in the long run.
“In a way, it is probably a blessing in disguise that he didn’t get pole,” he said.
“I think if you blow everything on your first weekend then you have set the bar so high, what more can you do.
“Obviously, I am sure he is frustrated today but probably in the long term, it is a good thing for him with everybody expecting whatever from him.
“But you have got to do it, you have got to step up.”
The Renault driver likened Russell’s leap up the grid to his own move from Toro Rosso to Red Bull in 2014.
Conceding that while it does come with added pressure, he says it is also “easier” as the car is a huge leap forward.
“When I went from Toro Rosso to Red Bull, it is probably like now with him going from Williams to Mercedes,” said the Aussie.
“There is more pressure to be at the front but the car is better so therefore it is actually easier to drive in a way. It does more what you want.
“I’m sure if you speak to George he will say… he probably won’t say it because he doesn’t want to be arrogant, but he will probably say it was quite easy out there.
“And I don’t want to take the word easy lightly.
“I am sure with the grip he is fighting the car less than he has been with the Williams so stepping up is sometimes pleasantly surprising.”