George Russell, Williams, Yas Marina, 2020

Russell: Going from top three to bottom three is “sad reality of F1”

2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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George Russell expected he wouldn’t get a second chance to drive for Mercedes in this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Having deputised for Lewis Hamilton during last weekend’s Sakhir Grand Prix, after the world champion was sidelined with a positive Covid-19 test, Russell finished ninth after leading for most of the race.

Speaking to RaceFans in an exclusive interview, Russell described how he felt when he learned Hamilton would be returning to his seat for Abu Dhabi.

“I was expecting it, to be honest,” he said.

“I think prior to Bahrain, I really wanted the two weeks in the car because I thought I might be a bit off the pace in Bahrain and then Abu Dhabi’s my second chance to know the car and what have you. Having had a competitive race in Bahrain, obviously it would’ve been great to get another opportunity to go for the win.”

Russell says he can feel the drastic difference in performance in his Williams to the championship-winning Mercedes having raced the W11 last weekend.

“It’s obviously a big difference,” says Russell. “The lap times show that.

“In some ways I feel more comfortable here at Williams because it’s my car, it’s where I’ve been for two years. But ultimately, we just don’t have the speed.

“As a driver, you’re doing the same job, but one week you’re fighting in the top three, the next week you’re in the bottom three. But that’s, unfortunately, the sad reality in Formula 1 these days.”

With Russell under contract to remain at Williams for the 2021 F1 season, he says he wants to finish this season with a strong performance to repay the efforts of the Williams personnel.

“The guys here at Williams are giving everything for me,” he says. “So I feel like it’s my duty, especially the last race of the year, to go out and try and end on a high.”

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2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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8 comments on “Russell: Going from top three to bottom three is “sad reality of F1””

  1. George, you should ask Toto for a share of the $20m he cut from Lewis’s contract after you drove that car in Bahrain. It’s only fair.

  2. Jose Lopes da Silva
    12th December 2020, 17:50

    It’s like playing for Liverpool and going to Sheffield United. Team sports are like that. It’s like reigning champion Hill narrowly missing qualifying for Australia ’97. Nothing new or strange here.

    1. Hill qualified for Australia 1997, Pedro Diniz was the Arrows driver who DNQ-ed.

  3. Could it actually be that the car counts for something in F1?

  4. Russell has driven both cars, he can guide Williams into developing the handling characteristics of the W11.
    Downforce is not the only factor that makes a competitive car. Other factors like the center of aerodynamic pressure and differencial, ride height, damper settings, brake bias etc.
    Ferrari claim they lack downforce and yet they outperform Williams who have the Mercedes engines.

  5. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    13th December 2020, 1:44

    Yeah George – imagine how Latifi and Kubica felt having to drive in the sister car…

  6. Driver skill is less important than technical detail. Get with the programme George if you want to remain a part of F1.

  7. Soon Williams will be back.

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