Still unsure who he will be driving for this weekend, George Russell was keen to clarify a “throwaway” comment he made in the wake of last week’s Sakhir Grand Prix.
Speaking after a race which he had led for much of the afternoon, only to be robbed by a radio mix-up and subsequent puncture, Russell said he hoped he had given team boss, Toto Wolff a headache “not just for 2022, maybe sooner”.
On a day teammate Valtteri Bottas had underperformed, leading to calls for Russell to be promoted to the role of Lewis Hamilton‘s teammate, this was widely seen as the British youngster effectively putting the ball in Wolff’s court.
Speaking to reporters in Abu Dhabi however, Russell was keen to play down the comment.
“That was just a throwaway remark in the heat of the moment,” he said. “Obviously emotions were high and what have you.
“I have a contract and am a Williams driver for 2021,” he added.
With no news of Hamilton’s progress, Russell was in Mercedes teamwear today, and it was alongside Bottas that he sat in the official press conference.
“We’re still waiting to get Lewis’s results back,” said the Briton. “For now we are going ahead as planned. If Lewis returns with a negative result, he will be back in the car.
“Last Friday was all about learning, taking in all the information, learning the procedures,” he added. “This Friday will be about improving the car, tuning the set-up to my driving.
“My engineers have already understood my way of working, my way of driving and we can try and tailor the car more to my needs. Last week was just running with Lewis’s setup which is obviously a very good baseline but I’m not Lewis and I have slightly different needs to extract more from myself and the team.”
Indeed, the German team had to make a number of changes to the car to accommodate the youngster, but if he is to remain in the W11 for a second weekend he admits further modifications will be needed.
“The adrenalin of driving this car and fighting for victories allows you to power through the pain,” he laughed.