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George Russell

Russell sees benefit to not winning on Mercedes debut

George Russell believes that it would have been too much of a "fairytale" had he won the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix during a stand-in performance for Mercedes.

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George Russell says he took the positives away from the heartbreaking end to his debut F1 race with Mercedes.

Russell, who steps up to the team full-time as a replacement for Valtteri Bottas this season, stood in for the ill Lewis Hamilton at the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix.

Having had no preparation time, and barely fitting into the W11, Russell stuck the car on the front row and was a strong contender for victory until a late puncture resulted in him finishing 9th.

Reflecting on that race weekend, Russell believes he took away some valuable lessons from the disappointment.

"I want to be the most complete driver possible and I want to look back in 20 years' time and say, 'That was an incredibly strong career. Every single outcome had a reason behind it and that made me a stronger driver'," Russell told Crash.net.

"I believe that race in Bahrain, losing that victory, will make me a stronger driver. In a way, it would have been too much of a fairytale to have won and I probably wouldn't have appreciated the achievement if that had happened."

Russell on learning to cope with disappointment

Having spent three years propping up the rear of the pack in his Williams, Russell feels he has learned how to cope with disappointment very well on several occasions.

For instance, Russell crashed out by himself at the 2020 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix as he looked on to score his maiden points – an incident that left him distraught.

"It wasn't just the Mercedes experience, but there were other experiences as well, and dealing with and bouncing back from disappointment is part of life and part of competitive sport," he explained.

"You know a championship isn't won or lost in one race, it's won over the course of a season. You will always have disappointing race weekends, you'll have failures, you'll have success. But if you don't bounce back from those disappointments, you are only going to compromise yourself and your team for the remaining races.

"So accepting those disappointments, learning from it, and equally just moving on and going from there."

As a result of this learning process, Russell now believes he's in a much stronger position than had he enjoyed instant success.

"I think people who have it easy throughout their career, throughout their life, when they do face these disappointments, they struggle to deal with it, and probably aren't able to bounce back as quickly," he added.

"And that's why I'm grateful that I've been in this position on a number of occasions, to make me more resilient. I would have loved to have won that race [Sakhir 2020], but that's not what I want my career to be remembered by."

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