Brazilian Grand Prix winner George Russell feared that the late Safety Car towards the end of the race would leave him vulnerable and cost him the win.
Russell claimed his maiden grand prix victory and his Mercedes team’s first win of the season at Interlagos after leading for the majority of the race. However, a late Safety Car with just over ten laps remaining saw him have to restart on used soft tyres with team mate Lewis Hamilton directly behind him.
Russell held onto the lead at the restart and completed the final laps to win his first grand prix, with Hamilton behind him to ensure a Mercedes one-two.
“What an amazing feeling,” Russell said after the race. “Just a huge thank you to the whole team for making this possible.
“It’s been an emotional rollercoaster, this season. This race was a really tough race. I felt in control, Lewis was super-fast and then when I saw the Safety Car, I thought ‘oh Jesus, this is going to be a really difficult end’.”
Hamilton chased Russell home over the final laps but never drew close enough to attack his team mate. “He put me under so much pressure, but I’m so happy to come away with the victory,” said Russell.
It was Russell’s first career grand prix victory in his fourth season in Formula 1 – his first for Mercedes after three seasons with Williams. As a Mercedes junior for most of his single-seater career, Russell dedicated his victory to those from Mercedes who had supported him over the years.
“On the in-lap, all of these memories sort of come flooding back,” he said. “Starting off with my mum and dad and go-karting and going through.
“All the support I’ve had from the rest of my family, my girlfriend, my trainer, my manager. Then obviously the likes of Gwen [Lagrue] who gave me the opportunity to get on the programme with Mercedes and James Vowles and Toto [Wolff] – the list is endless. I can’t thank them enough. Yeah, super-proud.”
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