George comes close to Sakhir GP win, scores first F1 points
George made a stunning Grand Prix debut for the Mercedes Formula 1 Team, coming close to victory before going on to score his first World Championship points.
The Brit made an excellent dash from the start line to lead into Turn 1 ahead of his team-mate for the weekend, Valtteri Bottas.
A Turn 4 crash for Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen brought out a safety car until Lap 7 of 87 as the cars were recovered. George kept his cool, holding onto the lead and putting some air between himself and the Finn.
George continued to lead the pack before pitting on Lap 46 to change his Medium compound tyres for Hard compounds, emerging behind Bottas and staying in second position until the Finn fitted on Lap 50.
George then looked set for a mightily impressive win, only for a second Safety Car on Lap 63 to disrupt proceedings.
Mercedes opted to bring both drivers into the pits for a double-stack pitstop. Unfortunately, a tyre error forced George to make an additional pitstop one lap later.
George would then put in a stunning overtake on his team-mate around the outside of Turn 6 to climb into P4.
George then gallantly fought his way back into podium contention, running in second, and he looked to have the pace to challenge Sergio Perez for victory in the final laps.
But a heart-breaking late left-rear puncture forced him into another stop, dropping him out of the Top 10.
A hard fight back in the final few laps ended with George in P9, taking his first points in his Formula 1 career and an additional point for the DHL fastest lap.
While the final result was gutting after a race-winning showing, the Brit impressed his Mercedes team and the wider paddock.
“I don’t quite know how to sum up the mixture of emotions I’m feeling at the moment. On the one hand, I’m proud of the job we did this weekend. I had a great group of people around me that was working very hard and diligently to get me prepared and ready for qualifying and the race. But today was absolutely gutting.
I’ve had races before where I had a victory taken away from me, but it felt like that happened twice today, I still can’t quite believe it. I had everything under control after the start and was managing the race, looking after my tyres and keeping the gap to Valtteri. Then we had that mess-up during the pit stop, I think there were some issues with the comms. That put us on the back foot, but I think we still could have won.
And then the car was starting to feel a bit funny; I didn’t want to believe it was a puncture, I just wanted to power through, but that obviously was not an option.
I’m gutted, but also proud of what we have achieved and very happy to have had the opportunity to drive this car this weekend.
Congratulations to Checo, he’s been around for a long time and is a great driver and deserves to have a victory on his tally.”
George will be back on track in Abu Dhabi for the final event of the season with FP1 getting underway at 9:00 GMT on Friday December 11.