George Russell, Williams, Bahrain International Circuit, 2021

Russell sees himself “representing the younger half of the grid” in new GPDA role

2021 Bahrain Grand Prix

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George Russell has explained his motivation behind becoming one of the directors of the Grand Prix Drivers Association for 2021.

The Williams driver, now entering his third season in Formula 1, has taken over from IndyCar-bound Romain Grosjean on the GPDA’s board of directors. He joins Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel and Le Mans 24 Hours winner Alex Wurz, plus the group’s legal advisor Anastasia Fowle.

Since 1961, the GPDA has worked as a union for drivers in single-seaters’ top level to put forward their interests. Most of the group’s work has been in the field of safety, and is usually led by more experienced drivers such as Vettel.

“Firstly, I wanted to take on that role because I think what the GPDA has done over so many years has been great for the sport,” Russell said.

“Whenever we’ve had our briefings between all of the drivers, which in 2019 was was very common, probably once after every two grands prix we would stay after the drivers’ briefing and we’d all talk about certain issues or ways we believe we can improve the sport: safety, whatever it may be. Obviously it was slightly harder in 2020 with the logistical issues of Covid-19.

“But I was always quite vocal, I always quite enjoyed putting my opinion forward and I guess having a voice for the drivers is something I’m quite proud of, to be honest. Looking forward to that, and I think I’ve got a very good relationship with a lot of the younger drivers.

“Sebastian is almost representing the older half of the grid, I’m potentially representing the younger half of the grid.”

Much as Lewis Hamilton has worked on projects outside of the cockpit to build a legacy beyond his driving accomplishments, 23-year-old Russell wants his work with the GPDA to contribute to an “incredibly bright” future for F1 under Liberty Media.

“I think being at the forefront with Sebastian and Alex Wurz to push forward these views of the drivers towards F1, towards the FIA and if I can look back and say, I was a part of that, that would be something I’ll be proud of,” he added.

“F1 are definitely open and they really want us to be even more involved. So what the future can hold, I’m not too sure. I think potentially just further outside of F1, and more motorsport in general would be fantastic, really. But obviously I’m the new boy on the block in this role so I can’t give too many opinions at the moment. Just listen and learn, and find my feet as time progresses.”

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Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching photography back in the UK. Currently based...

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3 comments on “Russell sees himself “representing the younger half of the grid” in new GPDA role”

  1. He seems like a nice kid, if say, he did end up in a Mercedes one day, I could see him being a great ambassador for the sport especially to the wider audience who perhaps don’t follow F1 that closely. Of course the pressure of being at the front does change how people communicate, Seb Vettel was once a young, floppy haired ‘cheeky-chappy’, and in the last year at Red Bull and plenty of times in the Ferrari years we saw the surly side of him.

    I must stress that’s not a criticism of Seb, he’s human, and everyone reacts differently, and it’s healthy for him to show how he feels. In fact, I can’t think of a world champion who hasn’t had periods of being angry / grumpy / unreasonable. It’s seemed strange when Danny Ric lost the win at Monaco because of the pit stop debacle, and his reaction being “don’t talk to me”. But then, anyone would have felt like that in that scenario.

    He has started smiling again since.

    1. I have to disagree. Seb became much more likeable during his years at Ferrari.

      1. @spafrancorchamps I agree with you, he is a much more rounded character. Rather than just smiling and people remarking how he likes Monty Python. Even calling Kvyat a ‘torpedo’, it shows that Seb is human, I also like that he avoids social media, he is very much himself I feel, and though I disagree with him on many things, so would anyone with any driver on the grid.

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