Russell proved it doesn’t matter who is in the car

Mark Scott
George Russell

Martin Brundle's advice to George Russell after Sakhir GP heartbreak.

George Russell’s stand-in performance for Mercedes at the Sakhir Grand Prix has opened up the driver v car debate (again).

Some of your reaction to a crazy penultimate race of the season in Bahrain…

Mercedes can’t afford to make changes

John Dean: Mercedes don’t have the luxury of making big changes within the team now. They have a sure championship in the bag for next year with Lewis. They know that next year might be their last chance at glory for a long time. In 2022 onwards it’s anyone’s game. It could even be Williams that is the top team.

There would definitely be some risk with George if he was to get LH seat next year even if he is great. He’s young, not so experienced. He could win it, but there’s definitely also more risk with him.

Jamie Borovski: Mercedes already had a few years to prepare for the new 2022 specs, at a time where there are no restrictions on the money they could spend preparing. So, not only they will be very well prepared, they will likely continue to win until the cost cap has its full effects, which, according to people like Ross Brawn, will not be before 2 or 3 years after it is implemented.

Where Mercedes might start to look more normal is when the new engine specs are implemented. The other PU manufacturers should then be better positioned to offer stronger competition and, combined with the cost cap starting to have its effects after a few years of being implemented; other teams may start really competing on a more level playing field.

Pit lane conspiracy?

George Russell Mercedes
George Russell knew debut Mercedes weekend was turning out "too good to be true".

Fernando Alonso: Absolutely disgraceful from Mercedes, they managed to do everything possible to deny Russell the win.

They’ve had no issues with Hamilton cruising up front in previous races, but as soon as Russell is doing it, they start messing up. Totally messed Bottas up as well.

There’s no way that Mercedes can make such silly mistakes. They cost Russell a very easy win.

Russell totally deserved to win. Imagine how much he would dominate with more time in the car, he’s not at the limit yet; no one would be after such little time in the car. He didn’t even fit properly into it this weekend.

That has well and truly put to bed the “it’s the car” argument, there is absolutely no doubt now that it is the car. Anyone can win in the Mercedes unless Mercedes don’t want you to win of course.

No wonder Toto won’t put Russell alongside Hamilton. Hamilton is very happy with Bottas the wingman as his teammate.

Mercedes should splash the cash on new mechanics

Revolver: People keep talking about the drivers, but Russell just proved it doesn’t really matter who’s in that car. Might even save some money from driver salary if they just go for a Russell-Bottas line up for next year. What they need to do is to look for better mechanics, because that’s what cost them an easy 1-2 today, not the drivers.

Phil Michael: Absolute amateur hour all round. I don’t really buy Toto’s excuse for what went wrong – even if the radio comms have broken down you would assume the lead driver would come in first. Also when the car is in the box, you can bloody see the number on the front of the car as to who it is! And even finally, the garage has a world feed of the race, and they literally cut to George coming down the pit-lane!

This is exactly why you need a fast driver in the second Red Bull seat, because they are prone to cracking under pressure at Merc.

Would Hamilton have pulled through?

DillBickle: They stopped under the safety car. Replace George with Lewis and if he stayed out Lewis would be on I believe 30 lap old hard tires while your teammate would be on a slightly used but way more fresh medium tire. Lewis is a beast, but that’s a huge deficit that he would not be able to overcome. We saw how Bottas’s tire dropped with about 18 laps to go. Lewis I think could have gotten about 8-10 more laps but the last 5ish they would have hit a cliff.

Chris Mancer: I think George Russell proved that the car is very important in F1 and Lewis Hamilton would not be 7x WDC without Mercedes. Hamilton is quick, but he looks better than he is due to dominant machinery and a rubbish teammate. The same teammate who got annihilated today. Russell had 4 hours of practice and a qualifying session to get used to the car, and trounced Bottas. If it wasn’t for Mercedes making a pit stop error and an unlucky puncture, he would have won that.

Russell looked every bit as good as Hamilton does in the Merc, but mainly due to Bottas being so poor. I’m not saying that Hamilton or Russell are incapable, but having Bottas in the other car would make anyone in the other Mercedes look like some sort of superhero.

Biqeg: Poor Bottas. He may not be at Hamilton’s level, but he does as good a job as most teammates do when up against a better driver. He doesn’t deserve quite this level of stick. Unfortunately, this race has shown that Russell is the real deal. You should never judge on one result, but that was a flawless race from Russell. I think he deserves a shot at a top team. Sadly, that will might well now be at the expense of Bottas, who at least can’t say he didn’t have the opportunity to fight for race wins and World Championships during his career at Mercedes.

If I were Hamilton, I’d sit the next race out regardless; better to recharge for next year, which isn’t far away anyway. Then we might be able to see more of Russell in a half-way decent car.

Mercedes [and Wolff] keep winning

Sebee: Let us remember that while Perez drove a good race, it was a lucky race. The incident put his strategy out of sequence, which then played into his hands. He was incredibly lucky with the Russell puncture, and Mercedes F1 screw up in general.

Also, Toto has sure set himself up to never lose. It’s amazing. Even when Mercedes F1 screw up, the team that he owns an interest in and pink W10 takes the race anyway. And who benefits if Race Point take P3 in WCC? Great for Aston Martin 2021 funds purse, isn’t it.

Follow us on Twitter @Planet_F1, like our Facebook page and join us on Instagram!