Mercedes feared water leak could have denied George Russell first F1 race win

George Russell, Mercedes, emotional. Brazil, November 2022. Credit: Alamy
George Russell, Mercedes, emotional. Brazil, November 2022. Credit: Alamy

Toto Wolff revealed that George Russell was not told about a water leak which threatened to rip away his Sao Paulo win.

Russell was on mighty form in the Mercedes at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix, taking an impressive victory in the sprint, before delivering a dominant display during the Grand Prix.

It meant that after taking the chequered flag for the first time in Formula 1 on Saturday, Russell followed that up with his first Grand Prix victory.

Russell of course had flirted before with victory as a Mercedes driver, having led back in 2020 at the Sakhir Grand Prix as he stood in for the ill Lewis Hamilton.

On that day it was a Mercedes tyre mistake and puncture which took that potential achievement away from Russell.

And Mercedes team boss Wolff revealed that a different gremlin was lurking in Sao Paulo, opting not to tell Russell so that he could maintain focus on the driving.

He certainly did that to devastating effect as his W13 held on to take him across the line.

“We had a water leak on the car throughout the race, and it wasn’t clear that we could actually make it to the end,” said Wolff, as per Autosport.

“[We] all agreed we’re going to let him drive to the end even without water, on whatever was there to cool it, and just try to finish the race.”

Russell, reflecting on his achievement, called this 2022 campaign so far a “rollercoaster”, adding that all the memories of his career leading to this point started to appear in his mind as he crossed the line.

“Amazing feeling, just a huge thank you to the whole team for making this possible,” said Russell.

“It’s been an emotional rollercoaster this season. This race was a really tough race, I felt we controlled, Lewis was super-fast and then when I saw the Safety Car, I thought this is going to be a really difficult ending, he put me under so much pressure, but so happy to go away with the victory.

“On the in-lap, all of these memories sort of came flooding back, it started off with my mum and dad in go-karting and go through and all the support I’ve had from the rest of my family, my girlfriend, my trainer, my manager.

“And then obviously the likes of Gwen [Lagrue, Mercedes driver development advisor] who gave me the opportunity to get on the programme with Mercedes and James Vowles [chief strategist] and Toto, the list is endless, I can’t thank enough. Super proud.”

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