Russell expertly controlled Sunday’s 71-lap race and held off recovering teammate Lewis Hamilton to claim his first grand prix win - and a first for Mercedes amid a troubled 2022 season. 

However, things could have been very different for Russell, after it emerged that Mercedes spent half the race fearing a problem on the Briton’s car could be terminal. 

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"We had a water leak on the car throughout the race and it wasn't clear whether we could actually make it to the end,” Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, who did not travel to Brazil, confirmed after the race.

"We talked about it on the intercom and we all agreed we're going to let him drive to the end even without water, on whatever was there to cool it and just try to finish the race.”

Speaking to reporters remotely, Wolff asked Mercedes team communications director Bradley Lord to explain the issue in more detail. 

“About half distance, we knew about it and George wasn’t informed,” said Lord. “So he wasn’t aware.

"We were concerned at one point that we would be four or five laps from the finish and not making it but then it did by the skin of its teeth.” 

Russell’s first grand prix win came two years after he was cruelly denied a victory on his debut for the team as a substitute for Hamilton at the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix. 

“I think he deserved to win in Bahrain and we let him down with the car,” Wolff added. 

“This victory makes us happy because he could have had one on the clock two years ago, and he didn’t, and now he has that first victory."