Mercedes stand-in George Russell says it “really bloody hurt” to lose the chance of claiming a deserved maiden Formula 1 victory at the Sakhir Grand Prix.

Russell, who was making his race debut for Mercedes deputising for Lewis Hamilton following the seven-time world champion’s positive COVID-19 test, took the lead from Valtteri Bottas at the start and looked to be in complete control of Sunday’s race in Bahrain before a late Safety Car.

Mercedes opted to pit both its cars as a safety decision but a calamitous tyre mix-up resulted in the wrong tyres being put on Russell’s car, while Bottas had to have his old Hard tyres re-fitted to his W11 as both drivers were heavily delayed.

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Russell had to come back into the pits a lap later to switch onto the correct tyres but could have still won the race after charging from fifth at the restart to find himself chasing down race-leader Sergio Perez, only to suffer an agonisingly puncture after running over debris and being forced to make yet another unscheduled stop.

In the end, the Briton recovered from 15th to claim his first points in F1 in ninth place, though both Mercedes drivers are at risk of being disqualified with the team under investigation for running the wrong tyres on its cars after the botched double-stack.

"I've had races where I've had victories taken away from me, but twice, I couldn't believe it," Russell said.

"I couldn't believe what was happening. I drove my heart out, I had the race under control, especially in the beginning, and then obviously the safety car came out, which was annoying.

"But I felt comfortable. I put some good overtakes, I was fired up, I was ready to chase Sergio to get the win back, and it would have been tight, but we would have done it.

"And then it went away from us again. So that's racing.”

Russell could take some consolidation from an accomplished performance all weekend as he joked that he has given Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff “some problems to sort out for the future”.

"If you'd told me at the start of this weekend I would have scored some points, I'd have said right, that's going to be a pretty fantastic weekend!" Russell joked.

"But if you'd told me I'd be leading the race, and then ended up... argh... I don't know.

"It really hurt, honestly, it really bloody hurt when I got out of the car.

"I spoke to my parents straightaway. I know they were feeling it. They said you've got so much to be proud of. Same with Toto [Wolff] and James [Vowles] and Bono. We hugged it out.

"So hopefully I've given Toto some problems to sort out for the future. I'm happy. I'm proud.”

Wolff revealed he spoke to Russell immediately after the race in a bid to console the Briton, adding that he felt a “new star” was born in F1 with his impressive showing this weekend.

“It was very emotional because you are in your first race with Mercedes and you should have won it actually, driving a monumental race and there’s not a lot you can say,” Wolff told Sky F1.

“It’s not going to be his last attempt to win a race, it’s just the beginning of a fairytale. It didn’t work out today but I would say a new star is born.”