Mercedes’ trackside engineering director, Andrew Shovlin, has revealed the team’s initial concerns following George Russell’s first-lap collision with teammate Lewis Hamilton during the Qatar Grand Prix.
Despite the setback, Russell displayed an impressive recovery, ultimately securing a fourth-place finish.
Shovlin discussed the team’s early expectations in a video released by Mercedes, saying, “Given that we were put right to the back after that lap one incident, the early predictions were coming in back of the points but not scoring many points.
“As the race went on, those predictions got better and better and ultimately were indicating that he would finish fourth place.”
Russell’s ability to navigate through the race’s traffic surpassed the team’s initial assessments.
Shovlin remarked, “Basically, he was able to overtake, he was able to get through key cars early on.
“Also, once he got into free air, we could see that the race pace was actually really good, and that was the thing that allowed him to make up so many places.
“On top of that, the strategy team did a great job of re-optimising the race, trying to make the most of a bad situation, and fourth was a great reward for their efforts.”
After the race, George Russell addressed the first-lap incident with Lewis Hamilton, emphasising that it was entirely unintentional and highlighting the challenges of visibility in Formula 1 cars.
He stated, “The incident at turn one was absolutely not intentional from either myself or Lewis.
“Visibility is so difficult in these cars.
“There are big blind spots, and we both have so much respect for one another.”
Despite the early setback, Russell remained positive, focusing on the team’s overall performance.
“There are still lots of positives to take away.
“Our goal is to get second place in the Constructors’ Championship, and we managed to outscore Ferrari this weekend.
“Our pace was very strong too, so we can be confident going into these final five races,” he said.
Russell also shared his experience of the Qatar Grand Prix, describing it as one of the most physically demanding races he has ever participated in.
The extreme heat made it a challenging ordeal for the drivers.
“He expressed his relief upon seeing the checkered flag, marking the end of a grueling race.”