Formula 1: Major knock-on effects still felt from George Russell’s performance

George Russell, Mercedes, Formula 1 (Photo by GIUSEPPE CACACE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
George Russell, Mercedes, Formula 1 (Photo by GIUSEPPE CACACE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images) /

Almost two months have passed since the actual emergence of George Russell, and the knock-on effects from that Sakhir Grand Prix are still forming now, effects that are not only having an impact on Mercedes, but up and down the Formula 1 grid.

George Russell really made his name in Formula 1 during the Sakhir Grand Prix back in December when he was chosen to fill in for the then COVID-19 positive Lewis Hamilton.

During this time, it was expected that the upcoming Formula 1 contract negotiations between Hamilton and Mercedes were only a formality, but here we are in late January, and there has still been no announcement, an intriguing turn of events to say the least.

This has definitely left people pondering why no deal has been agreed to, considering the level of success that has been had by the two parties in recent years. But the reasons are actually quite clear when you think about it.

Ultimately, it comes down to George Russell.

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The show that the Williams driver was able to put on during his short tenure in the Mercedes opened a lot of peoples’ eyes. If it was not for an interesting, to say the least, puncture, a debut victory for the Brit with the Brackley team would have happened in his maiden start.

With the budget cap coming in for the upcoming 2021 season, being efficient with funds is now more important than it has been in recent times. No more splashing the cash. And Toto Wolff is clearly not a silly bloke; he knows what he needs to do and when he needs to do it while providing valid reasons.

That is what makes this delay in the contract announcement more surprising. Money conservation has to be playing a rather large role.

The contract will not be a long one, at most two years. Although it will still be a lucrative deal, there is no doubt that the plans for this particular contract would have been different before November started — more lucrative for Hamilton and more pricey for Mercedes.

Russell’s performance has gone against Hamilton, big time. What would be the point in spending who knows accurately how many millions more for a driver who is towards the end of his career when only a couple million can be spent on a different, younger driver who has a good chance of achieving similar performances throughout the season in the same car with little experience?

Common sense is becoming a prime factor, it seems.

That, however, is not the only effect from that race. It also did not look good for Valtteri Bottas. Everyone knows that; everyone saw it. It was not good, and that is a trend. And, if we’re honest, with Russell’s name firmly attached to the Mercedes in the future, the piranhas of the Formula 1 paddock will be snapping at the doors trying to find a way into Bottas’s seat. A door with very little hold….

Mercedes are not the only outfit whose ideas were challenged after the Sakhir Grand Prix. Again, if we are being honest, Sergio Perez effectively signed his 2021 Red Bull contract after the race with his first victory in Formula 1.

Although there was a high chance that Perez’s writing hand was already on the way to the bottom of the Red Bull contract, the victory was just the tick in the box for the Mexican.

It continues. Charles Leclerc was another one who did not come out of the race looking bright. Despite already being the lead driver of Ferrari by this point, he proved that there is always a learning curve when you are in Formula 1.

His ambitious move in the opening lap, resulting in a DNF, provided evidence that as talented as he is, and he really is, the Monegasque driver is still growing as a driver. Some could say he has not yet reached his best form.

But let’s throw ourselves back to the main topic of this piece. The Russell-Mercedes effect took another swing since that infamous race with more parts from Mercedes now being lent to Williams, which is a big win.

With the new owners and now the new gearboxes and hydraulics due to an expansion of their technical deal, the future is starting to look bright — for the first time in a while.

Don’t get this wrong; this does not dig Hamilton in any way. But money in this sport talks a big game, good and bad. It has the power to corrupt the best and attract the worst.

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Put yourself in a business leader’s position. Here we go: the business has been superb in recent years with some aspects gaining more success. But as the years roll on, the price follows. Is it truly the smartest option to commit yourself to the usual aspect when a younger, fresher aspect is first in line to replace? And as they will never be alongside each other, which option is the better one?