GRAND PRIX NEWS - George Russell is dropping down a size in race footwear this weekend to fill Lewis Hamilton's boots for Mercedes at the Sakhir Grand Prix.
The 22-year-old Briton, who is around four inches (10 centimetres) taller than the seven-time champion, is usually a full shoe size bigger.
Hamilton races in size nines (43) while Russell uses a 10 (44).
But this weekend he will scrunch up his toes to squeeze into Hamilton's cockpit after his compatriot was ruled out by a positive Covid-19 test on Monday.
"It definitely was a tight squeeze," said Russell on Thursday, talking about his 'seat fitting' experience with the Mercedes team. "My size 11 feet were a struggle so 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."
Russell, a Mercedes academy graduate, has yet to score a point in Formula One or reach Q3 in qualifying as he draws towards the end of his second year with the struggling Williams team.
Speaking at a virtual news conference, Russell added that his race engineer this weekend Pete 'Bono' Bonnington had teased him about the problem of his size.
"I spoke to Bono and he said 'I'm sure we can make some mods to your body'. Ha! I'm not sure about that though."
Russell's chance with Mercedes this weekend has come four years after he joined their young driver programme. He is the first driver to graduate to the works team.
"It's not how I envisioned by first opportunity in a Mercedes race car," he said. "Obviously, odd circumstances, but this year has been mental on all accounts and not just for me.
"There are much greater problems in the world, but just from a personal perspective, in terms of my career, it's been up, down, left, right, centre. And now, it's just another twist in the tale, let's say."
He added that he had not been set any targets and felt no pressure.
"My seat is three years old and I have got so much information to learn," he said.
"There's no targets and no expectations because you can't judge somebody off the back of one race. This weekend is all about learning – especially on Friday," said Russell. "If I get the opportunity again in Abu Dhabi, who knows? That will be easier."
He revealed also that he had received his call from Mercedes principal Toto Wolff, at two in the morning
"When Toto rang, I was in the bathroom," he said. "It was slightly awkward."
"I was like 'right ok' and then it was a bit of a sleepless night. We made it happen the next day."
Russell will be replaced at Williams by compatriot Jack Aitken, who contacted the team immediately he realised he had a chance to make his F1 debut.
"It's a huge opportunity, but it's equally one that I've been waiting for - for quite a long time - and one that I feel quite ready for," said Aitken, who last drove for Williams in opening free practice at the Styrian Grand Prix in July.