Mercedes made car tweak to accommodate George Russell after uncomfortable 2020 experience

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Mercedes adjusted their cockpit to ensure George Russell is more comfortable after the Brit endured a horrendous experience as Lewis Hamilton’s stand-in at the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix. After years of rumours and speculation, Russell was confirmed as Hamilton’s team-mate at the Silver Arrows ahead of the 2022 season and his permanent role within the team led the engineers to make a necessary change.

After seven-time champion Hamilton contracted Covid ahead of the second race held around Bahrain’s Sakhir circuit, Russell was promoted to partner Valtteri Bottas for a one-off race. The Brit belied his years as he put in a stunning performance, passing Bottas immediately to take the lead of the race.

Unfortunately, the 24-year-old was denied a famous win due to pit stop mishaps and a puncture, leaving him to finish in ninth. It appears that while the result may have hurt, Russell was actually powering through great physical pain due to the size of the cockpit. 

The Mercedes car he used that day was designed to fit the dimensions of Hamilton, who stands at just under 5ft 9ins. This is largely different to the taller Russell, whose frame spans 6ft 0ins. 

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“And my knees were banging against the chassis, my shoulders were rubbing against the side. This season it’s like lying on a sofa!” 

The interviewer then remarked it would likely be difficult to swap cars with Hamilton because the F1 icon is far smaller than Russell, and therefore has a narrower cockpit. Russell agreed, but insisted the cockpits in both cars are the same size: “Maybe it’s too big for Lewis now, I don’t know.”

The 22-race F1 2022 campaign – which is expected to return to a record 23 races in the near future once a Russian Grand Prix replacement is found – continues with the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix on April 24.


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