If you’re in the bathroom at 2 a.m. that usually doesn’t signify good things. For George Russell, though, that happened to be the right place and the right time, as that’s when he got the call to drive for the Mercedes-AMG F1 team at this weekend’s Sakhir Grand Prix. Russell, a driver for Williams Racing most weekends, will replace Lewis Hamilton, who’s tested positive for COVID-19.
Here’s how Russell said the call went down, via Formula1.com:
“I got a phone call from Toto [Wolff, Mercedes Team Principal] at 2am on Tuesday morning,” said Russell. “I was actually in the bathroom at that moment, which was slightly awkward. He answered the phone and said, ‘George, are you in the bathroom?’ and I said, ‘Sorry, I am in the bathroom’.
“And he said ‘unfortunately Lewis has caught Covid, he’s doing well, he’s healthy and feels fine which is the most important, but we want you to drive’. And then [I had] a bit of a sleepless night and we made it happen throughout the following day.
We can all admire the quick, professional transition from acknowledging that Russell was in the bathroom to the news that Hamilton has COVID and Russell would be needed to drive. But the unexplained thing here, of course, is what sound Wolff heard that led him to intuit that Russell was in a bathroom in the first place. The sound of a fluid in the background would not lead me to immediately question whether my fellow interlocutor was in the can but, uh, other sounds might.
Getting on to the more practical bits of actual racing while also keeping this post bodily themed, Russell also said today that he it is a bit tight in the Mercedes seat. Russell is just over 6 feet tall; Hamilton is 5-foot-9.
“It definitely was a tight squeeze,” said Russell, who’s one of the taller drivers on the grid. “Also my size 11 feet were a struggle, some I’m having to wear a size smaller shoe than would be ideal, so that’s slightly uncomfortable. But I’m sure I can endure the pain to get this opportunity.”
This has been your George Russell body and bathroom update.