You thought you knew heartbreak? Watch the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix. Poor George Russell lost out on his maiden F1 victory after a mistake from Mercedes saw a colossal pit stop error which cost him the win.
With Russell leading the race comfortably, followed by teammate Bottas, it was Jack Aitken who caused a safety car for crashing his Williams on the start finish straight.
Mercedes decided to pit the duo and double-stack them, however it emerged after the pit stops that they had given an incorrect set of tyres to Russell that actually belonged to Bottas.
Russell had to pit again to change back to his own tyres, joined the field further down, before a puncture on the final laps resulted in yet another pit stop. It was a total and very uncharacteristic mistake from Mercedes and they are now being investigated with Russell likely to get a disqualification or hefty penalty for next week’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
[Update: Mercedes have been fined $20,000 for their tyre error, but Russell will keep his championship points.]
Gutted. Absolutely gutted.
It just wasn't meant to be tonight but I’m proud of the job we did out there. We'll get our opportunity again.
Congrats to @SChecoPerez. Nobody deserves a win more than him.
— George Russell (@GeorgeRussell63) December 6, 2020
“I have had races in my past where I had a win taken away from me, but twice? I just couldn’t believe my luck really,” Russell told SkyF1 after the race.
“We had the race under control from the beginning and just managed the gap to Bottas. We had it covered.
“Then the pit stop, I don’t know what really happened there. Regardless, we came back through and did some mega overtakes and then the puncture.
Toto: 💬 “It was a colossal **** up.”
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) December 6, 2020
“It’s a mixture of emotions but I have got it out of my system so far. I have had wise words from my parents, from Toto, James, Bono. Hugged it out. Cried it out a little bit. I am proud.
“Toto said I drove like a champion.
“I think we all feel it to be honest. It was almost a fairytale but hopefully it puts toto in a difficult position now moving forward.
“If I managed to achieve that at least it’s one victory.”
Mercedes have since confirmed that it was a radio failure that caused the confusion that allowed Bottas’ tyres to be fitted to George’s car.
This weekend was a true testament of how George managed to quickly recover from what must have been the most disappointing loss of his racing career, and will surely only come back stronger.