After coming away from the 2022 Brazilian Grand Prix with his first victory in F1, things could have been very different for George Russell after Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff revealed his car had an issue which compromised his race.
Russell took victory in Saturday’s F1 Sprint Race at Interlagos, then led from start to finish in the main Grand Prix, to claim his maiden F1 win and Mercedes’ first of the 2022 F1 season.
That said, Wolff indicated that the race could have gone the way of the 2020 Sakhir GP, when Russell, who was deputising for Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes, suffered a late puncture and had a near certain win taken away.
“He deserved to win in Bahrain (Sakhir), and we let him down with the car,” Wolff told reporters after the Brazilian GP.
“That’s why this victory makes us happy because he could have won two years ago and now he has that first victory.
“As an aside we had a water leak on the car throughout the race, and it wasn’t clear whether we could make it to the end.”
Mercedes’ director of motorsport communications, Bradley Lord revealed that Russell wasn’t informed about the issue.
“We knew about it from half distance and George wasn’t informed,” Lord said. “So he wasn’t aware. We were concerned that we would get to four or five laps from the finish and not make it, but it did by the skin of its teeth.”
Positive Mercedes mindset
Wolff then reiterated his belief that the win somewhat vindicated Mercedes’ design choices and also shows the mindset of the team.
“It shows the development capability of the team,” Wolff said. “And that makes me super proud because we had situations when we understood, and then there were setbacks.
“The team never stopped believing that we were on the right trajectory, whilst acknowledging that we didn’t always understand everything and it shows the mindset and values of the team.”
Further expanding on the development of the Mercedes car, Wolff feels the recent upgrades that the team have brought have shown they know how to unlock the performance in the car.
“We had a good upgrade that we brought to Austin, we were good in Mexico, and now we outperformed everyone,” Wolff stated. “And we did yesterday [Saturday in the Sprint].
“That shows that we are getting there in understanding how to unlock the performance in the car, and that is a good indication for next year.”