Russell landed the golden ticket ahead of the Sakhir GP when he was drafted in to replace Lewis Hamilton who had tested positive for COVID-19.
The 22-year-old was yet to score a point in Formula 1 after almost two seasons with the struggling Williams team, but suddenly he went from the FW43 to the fastest Formula 1 car ever built in the W11.
With so little time to prepare for driving a car which he barely fit in to, Russell was told by team boss Toto Wolff that all pressure was off, and from there he put the W11 P2 on the grid, only 0.026s down on team-mate Valtteri Bottas’ pole time.
The race started even better as Russell jumped Bottas to take the lead into Turn 1, and if it wasn’t for a monumental error in the pits which saw Mercedes fit Bottas’ tyres on to Russell’s car, followed by a puncture, then there is every chance that Russell would have won the Sakhir Grand Prix.
Nonetheless, Brawn saw the last part of the puzzle which he needed to see for Russell, believing the Briton is now “World Champion material” for sure – and there could be a good chance of every bookmaker offering odds on this outcome in the future.
— George Russell (@GeorgeRussell63) December 7, 2020
“George should be very positive about this weekend, despite the disappointing final result. He delivered an exceptional performance in pretty challenging circumstances,” Brawn wrote in his column for the Formula 1 website.
“I always thought he was a good Grand Prix driver. We’ve commented in this column before how good he has looked, but you never know if he has that last little bit of speed that marks you out as brilliant driver. George demonstrated that he has got that extra little bit – and a star is born.
“There is now no doubt that he’s F1 World Champion material. He didn’t make any mistakes in a challenging situation and all the problems were the team’s, not his. And he drove impeccably until he had the win taken away.
“He will be very frustrated not to have won but I don’t think he should be. He’s registered on the scale now. Any doubts anyone had, will be gone. Clearly he’s exceptional.”