The Belgian Grand Prix will be remembered as the shortest race in F1 history, declared after only two laps in torrential rain, but for George Russell it was the first podium finish of what is sure to be many more.

George Russell remembers his 2019 F1® debut for Williams in Australia, reflects on the lessons learned from his memorable stand-in appearance at Mercedes, talks about his rivalries with peers like Lando Norris and reveals why he wanted a director role in the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association alongside Sebastian Vettel.

George Russell swept Friday practice for his new Mercedes team after teammate Valtteri Bottas had several of his fastest laps deleted at the Sakhir Grand Prix.

Russell — substituting for Lewis Hamilton this weekend after the world champion’s positive COVID test — was unable to improve on his FP1 time, but his lap of 54.713s was enough to keep him 0.128s clear at the head of the time sheet.

Bottas was on track to claim top spot with his first lap on the soft tire, but the Finn fell afoul of freshly instituted track limits at Turn 8, set at the outer edge of the curbs at the exit of the right-hander. His quickest time would have beaten Russell’s best by 0.2s before it and two subsequent laps were deleted for driving off the track, leaving him 11th.

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George Russell ended his debut timed session as a Mercedes driver at the top of the charts at the Sakhir Grand Prix.

Russell, seconded from Williams to deputize for Lewis Hamilton while the world champion recovers from COVID-19, lapped the 2.202-mile ‘outer loop’ configuration of the Bahrain International Circuit in just 52.564s.

The 22-year-old Briton looked immediately at home in the black car. His feedback via team radio was focused mostly on adjusting to the functions and steering wheel controls of his new machine, and his only major problem appeared to be some shoulder discomfort as he squeezed into a cockpit designed for Hamilton, who stands approximately 4.3 inches shorter than his substitute.

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George Russell in his Williams overalls.
George Russell says he'd be ready to take on a Mercedes drive — if it were to actually happen.

George Russell says he’s fortunate to have walked away from his crash with a manhole cover that broke his Williams chassis during Friday practice.

As much as the 2019 season is hotly anticipated as the next chapter of Ferrari vs Mercedes, important too is that it’ll be the very first chapter for a new crop of F1 debutants.