F1: Sakhir Grand Prix, Qualifying LIVE —
22-year-old British driver George Russell has never scored a point in his two years in Formula One or even reached Q3 in qualifying.
But at 4am (AEDT) on Sunday morning, he’s got the perfect chance to not just reach the third qualifying session – the top ten shootout – but perhaps even to claim a maiden pole as he fills in for seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton.
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PRACTICE WRAP: Russell dominates on sizzling opening day
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Russell, a Mercedes academy graduate, steps up from the struggling Williams team to the dominant Mercedes side thanks to Hamilton testing positive for COVID-19 – and showed plenty of promising signs on the first day of practice.
His time of just 54.713 seconds represented the briefest lap of the season and was well within the time set by Niki Lauda with the fastest lap pole time in Formula One, set at the 1974 French Grand Prix.
He outpaced second-placed Max Verstappen of Red Bull by 0.323 seconds while teammate Valtteri Bottas struggled to deliver a clean timed lap and wound up down in 11th, his two best laps – both faster than Russell’s – were eliminated because he exceeded track limits.
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Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said: “He (Russell) delivered a really solid job in what we expect from him on a single lap.
“It’s difficult to establish a benchmark because Valtteri broke his car early on and it was difficult for him to stop it properly.
“He even stopped running, so we didn’t see Valtteri in the right car, but this is not to diminish George’s performance for the first time in the car. It was good.”
But there’s one reason that Russell will have any more cause for confidence – he has never been outqualified by a teammate in his two F1 seasons.
RACE CENTRE: Live lap timing, full qualifying results.
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