Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton has praised George Russell for doing “an amazing job” standing in for him at the Sakhir Grand Prix.

Hamilton was ruled out of last weekend’s race in Bahrain after contracting coronavirus, which paved the way for Russell to step in to replace Hamilton at the reigning world champions and sample Mercedes’ title-winning W11.

Russell starred on his debut outing and nearly claimed a fairytale win at the first attempt as he swapped the slowest car on the grid for the fastest, and it was a performance that Hamilton certainly noticed.

With the seven-time world champion back in action for the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Russell has returned to his usual seat at Williams to contest the last race of the year.

“I think George did an amazing job, I think everyone knows that,” Hamilton said when asked for his thoughts on Russell’s performance last weekend.

“It was definitely odd. For me, in 27 years of racing I’ve never missed a race. One day I’ll write a book about it but I’m just grateful to be back.

“I was very very happy and grateful this morning just to be back here and to try and finish off the season strong, super excited, it felt like first day back at school kind of thing,” he added.

“It definitely took a minute to get back used to it in the first session. In the second one I think still getting my bearings but [it was] not too bad. I think we got through most of the stuff we missed out in the 40 minute session at the start of the day but otherwise got most of the stuff done.”

Hamilton had a disrupted start to his day when he encountered brake-related issues in the opening session, before his Mercedes briefly conked out in the pitlane in the closing stages of FP2 when he reported to his team he had “no gears”.

“It’s definitely been a bit of a messy day with a lot going on,” Hamilton admitted.

“The guys have obviously been on the road for three weeks, so we’ve had a couple of gremlins, but we come through like we always do and tomorrow, I know will be better.

“We got through a lot of things that we needed to test for next year today. And the guys are working as hard as they can for things next year.”

Hamilton insisted he feels he has nothing to prove this weekend and is targeting to just “have some fun” at the final round of the season.

"Just want to come here and enjoy this weekend, enjoy what I do, has been a huge amount of work form everyone back at the factories and has been a privilege to race with them this year.

“So we don’t have anything to prove this weekend, don’t feel I have anything to prove, just here to have some fun.”

 

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