Sakhir GP: Pit stop confusion and late puncture costs Russell the race win

A maiden F1 victory for George Russell was taken away from him in Bahrain, after pit stop confusion and a late puncture dropped him down the field.

In yet another eventful race in the 2020 F1 season, Russell’s strong drive throughout the race was unraveled through no fault of his own towards the climax.

The British driver, who stepped in to the Mercedes to replace Lewis Hamilton this weekend who tested positive for Covid-19, put all the pressure behind him and held a controlling lead for the majority of the Sakhir GP.

Lap 58 of the race saw the shift to bad luck for the Briton, who was called into the pits in a last minute call after the safety car was deployed to clear away debris left by the Williams of Jack Aitken.

What should have been a simple stop turned into one of confusion, Mercedes put the wrong tyres onto Russell’s car, the tyres which should have been put on to Valtteri Bottas’ car.

This forced the young driver to box on the next lap to put the correct tyres on, which then dropped him to sixth place.

Russell began to make his way back up the field and looked set to catch up to the race leader Sergio Perez.

But as he continued his charge, the 22-year-old was told he had a slow-puncture, and was once again forced to make an unscheduled pit stop.

Ultimately, the Mercedes driver had to settle for ninth place at the chequered flag, but is currently under investigation for the mix-up of tyres and may get a time penalty or a disqualification.

Speaking after the race to Sky F1, Russell spoke of the heartbreaking end to the race.

“I can’t really put it into words to be honest,” he said.

“Jumping out of the car, it wasn’t a nice feeling.

“I gave it everything I had.”

When asked about the pit stop that began the heartbreak for the Briton, he said it put him at a disadvantage.

“That put us on the backfoot, I had to overtake,” he said.

“I think we still could’ve caught Sergio [Perez], we had such a tyre advantage, the car was so quick.

“The safety car came out seconds before I came into the pit lane and obviously we got the tyres muddled up.”

With a possible penalty looming over his head, Russell’s wait for a championship point could continue, adding to the pain of a weekend that was tipped out of his favour.