Pit Stop Blunder Denies Russell Debut Win

Pit Stop Blunder Denies Russell Debut Win
Pit Stop Blunder Denies Russell Debut Win

A pit-stop error from the normally reliable and ultra-professional Mercedes team cost George Russell the chance of winning his first Grand Prix in Bahrain on Sunday.

The Englishman Russell was standing-in for Lewis Hamilton, with the reigning world champion ruled out after catching Covid-19.

And despite little time to prepare, the Englishman had done a very impressive job, topping the timing charts in the first two sessions of free practice, and missing out on pole position by 0.026 seconds to his teammate Valtteri Bottas.

And, when the lights went out at the Sakhir Grand Prix it was Russell who beat Bottas into the first corner to lead the race.

He held the lead comfortably when, with two-thirds of the race gone. Mercedes made the decision to pit the pair after a safety car, as a precaution more than anything else. The pair were 15 seconds clear of the rest of the field and probably could have gone the rest of the Grand Prix on their existing tyres.

And that was when it all went wrong.

Due to what was later attributed to a radio failure in the garage, they put the wrong tyres on Russells car, using some of those intended for Bottas instead, an infringement of the rules. It also meant that when Bottas himself pitted, they had no fresh tyres to give him, so his old tyres had to be fitted back on the car.

Russell meanwhile was obliged to stop again to have the correct tyres fitted this time, meaning that, by the time he emerged, he had dropped for fifth, with Bottas one place ahead of him.

The 22-year-old Englishman was understandably deflated but fought his way past Bottas and then caught both Lance Stroll and Estaban Ocon, to move into second, and was chasing down race leader Sergio Prez, when disaster struck again and he got a left rear puncture.

That dropped him down to 15th and although he was able to fight his way back to 9th, to win his first world championship points, he knows it could have been so much better.

There were even fears at one stage that the three points he earned, - tow for finishing 9th and one for the fastest lap would be taken away from him by a subsequent investigation of the pit stop error by race stewards.

In the end though, they chose just to fine the team 20,000.

Suneer chowdhary
Sports Pundit staff writer @suneerchowdhary
ICC-accredited cricket journalist, covers Team India through their cricketing journey around the world

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