Something so similar to the events of the recent past happened in the Mercedes camp at Baku that it became a routine reason for celebration, provided one can use the phrase for the under fire Woking team.
Not for the first time did George Russell, who forget not, is a newcomer at Mercedes, beat the team’s greatest driver in its history: Sir Lewis Hamilton.
By taking a gallant third at the famously exhausting street course, George Russell did more than just collect a notable podium; in so doing, he claimed his third top three finish this year and secured a fourth podium for his Mercedes team.
Among the only drivers on the current grid to emerge with something noteworthy in every single Grand Prix held this season, Russell, who is all of 24, managed to drive home something to cheer about for a team that clearly has seen many memorable days in the past season.
Clearly locked in for a strong and capable fight with the likes of McLaren, Alpha Tauri and Haas this season, it was thanks to George Russell’s consistent finishes in points that Mercedes have been able to stay relevant in a season where not an awful lot has gone their way.
For a team so utterly habitual of scoring the best result in nearly every Formula 1 Grand Prix, particularly from the onset of the 2016 season, 2022 has reduced a glorious side to a modestly successful one. That’s if and but one would be particularly keen at using the phrase success for the team experiencing woeful current form.
But despite Ferrari and Red Bull keeping up the pressure on the rest of the pursuers, crushing many akin to a tiny, insignificant bug given their rip-roaring race pace, one man has quietly gone about steadying Mercedes’s ship in a season where their great world champion hasn’t had the best of forms.
And that man is the King’s Lynn-born driver George Russell, who truth be told, has driven so far like a true king in his own right.
At Baku, just a few hours ago, things didn’t change at the blink of an eye; Russell had to work rigorously and patiently for them. Having started the 51-lap challenge from fifth on the grid, right ahead of Alpha Tauri’s Pierre Gasly, Russell finished on third.
And as he did so, he kept a true icon of the sport at bay as if the entire effort of doing so was some act requiring nothing else than childlike-ease.
Implicit in Russell’s tight and watchful maneuvering of the Baku street course was his vigilant galloping around the circuit, where drivers can’t commit too many mistakes for it is such a cramped up affair.
He may not have won the race but to have fared as far as a third and as well as a podium finish for a team that desperately needs some positive ions, Russell needs to be lauded far more.
Interestingly, the 24-year-old had also shared his view prior to the start of the fifth instalment of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, which also turned out to be a first for the driver with Mercedes team:
I think it’s just a matter of time before we see a major incident,” the Englishman said, before going on to add further, “a lot of us can barely keep the car in a straight line over these bumps.”
He’d also state in no uncertain terms the ghastly challenge that Baku imposes on drivers given the current underwhelming aero effect most are facing:
“We’re going around the last two corners at 300 kilometre per hour bottoming out — you can visibly see on the tarmac how close the cars are running to the ground. I’m shaking to pieces, I can barely see where to brake at the end of the straight because we’re bouncing around so much. We’re now so close to the ground to get the maximum aerodynamic benefits, and it’s just brutal out there.”