"A star is born" - Brawn hails "exceptional" Russell as "future F1 champion material"
Ross Brawn believes George Russell blew away any doubts about his future with a performance in the Sakhir Grand Prix he feels has earmarked the Briton as a future Formula 1 champion.
Russell was left heartbroken after finishing ninth in a race he should have won but for a mistake from Mercedes at a pit stop and a late slow puncture that denied him a battle with eventual victor Sergio Perez.
But the 22-year-old's all-round display has left F1's managing director motorsports Brawn convinced Russell will one day go on and claim the title.
"George should be very positive about this weekend, despite the disappointing final result," said Brawn in his regular post-race column. "He delivered an exceptional performance in pretty challenging circumstances.
"I always thought he was a good grand prix driver. We’ve commented before how good he has looked, but you never know if he has that last little bit of speed that marks you out as a brilliant driver.
"George demonstrated that he has got that extra little bit – and a star is born.
"There is now no doubt that he’s F1 world champion material. He didn’t make any mistakes in a challenging situation and all the problems were the team’s, not his. And he drove impeccably until he had the win taken away.
"He will be very frustrated not to have won but I don’t think he should be. He’s registered on the scale now. Any doubts anyone had, will be gone. Clearly, he’s exceptional."
Despite initial scepticism over the Bahrain International Circuit's outer track as an F1 venue, Brawn feels the layout validated the sport's decision to stage a race on it rather than a re-run of the regular grand prix course.
The short, high-speed nature of the track led to non-stop action and a remarkable race result as Perez finished on top of the podium for the first time in his career ahead of Renault's Esteban Ocon and Racing Point team-mate Lance Stroll.
"The architect of the outer loop layout should be F1’s head of vehicle performance Craig Wilson," explained Brawn.
"He was the one who brought it to me and suggested the idea. I have to admit, I was a bit nervous, but the more I thought about it, the more I liked it.
"We were just conscious of having, at this stage of the season, a cookie-cutter second race at Bahrain. Why would it be any different if we ran the same layout twice?
"It’s a simple track, but quite challenging. The bumps make it far from easy, and the drivers who psychologically focused on it made the best of it so it worked really well."
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