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George Honoured To Drive Historic Mercedes and Collect Bandini Award

Driving an historic 100-year-old Mercedes and collecting the Trofeo Bandini Award in the Italian medieval village of Brisighella was an "honour" and a "privilege" for George Russell.

On Wednesday, the 26-year-old drove one of the original Mercedes cars that participated in the 1924 Targa Florio, a race won by the German marque.

The Brit did so en route to collecting the Trofeo Bandini Award before this weekend's Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

"It has been amazing to get behind-the-wheel of a 100-year-old Mercedes," said George.

"It's a car that you expect to be sitting in a museum for people to admire, rather than being driven. Being entrusted with its first public outing since its restoration was a real honour, therefore."

"The way it drove was exceptional. The noise was fantastic and the handling through the corners, considering the narrow tyres, was very impressive. It was a real joy to get the chance to drive it, so I want to say a huge thank you to the Mercedes-Benz Classic team.

"Collecting the Trofeo Bandini Award was also a true privilege. So many great F1 drivers have won this award so it was an honour to add my name to that list. It has been a brilliant day and I'm excited for the rest of the weekend in Imola."

The Award was established in 1992 in memory of the famous Italian racing driver Lorenzo Bandini who passed away in 1967.

The trophy is given to a figure in F1 and selected by a special committee, with the presentation taking place in Brisighella, a village in the Emilia-Romagna region of the country.

George drove the century-old two-litre machine from the nearby town of Faenza to the ceremony in the village square, celebrating the award and commemorating Mercedes' overall victory and triple class victory in the Targa Florio 1924.

Marcus Breitschwerdt, Head of Mercedes-Benz Heritage, said: "Yesterday, our original Mercedes Targa Florio racing car from 1924 returned to an Italian road - 100 years after the Mercedes victory at the race in Sicily.

"It was an incredibly emotional moment for everyone involved. This red racer thrilled the Italian crowds a century ago and now, it has brought a similar response with George Russell behind-the-wheel.

"We are happy and proud that the car successfully made its first public appearance after its comprehensive restoration at our Mercedes-Benz Classic Centre."

Francesco Asirelli, President of the Trofeo Bandini Association, added: "We were very happy that George was here to collect the 31st edition of the Trofeo Bandini. He is a very knowledgeable young man and a great sportsman.

"We have been working to make this happen for nearly a year and the moment finally came. He brought the sun with him to Brisighella and it was a fantastic day.

"Many thanks to Mercedes-Benz Classic for restoring such an incredible car and having its first public running at our event. Everyone was overjoyed to see it on the streets of the village, and it was a fantastic experience.

"A huge thanks must go to Mercedes-Benz and the Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team for making it happen."

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