Massive disappointments happen, I can deal with them: Exclusive interview with George Russell

2021 F1 season

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Professional, clean-cut and, above all, stunningly fast, Williams driver and Mercedes junior George Russell has long seemed an obvious choice for the next vacancy in the world champions’ driver line-up.

But the shine came off that reputation on Sunday at Imola. The stewards ruled a “racing incident” occured when Russell tangled at high speed with Valtteri Bottas – the very driver many expect he may replace at Mercedes next year – putting both out of the race.

But Mercedes CEO Toto Wolff saw it differently. He made it clear the team’s junior driver should not have been fighting so hard for position with one of its works cars. Russell’s furious initial reaction towards Bottas, and suggestion that he would have fought less hard against another rival, also reflected less well on him.

Bottas has every reason to regard Russell as a threat to his future at the team. Prior to the crash, Russell’s most notable performance in an F1 car came four months earlier in Bahrain, where he substituted for Lewis Hamilton and was on course to beat Bottas to victory until a doubt misfortune struck.

Speaking to RaceFans for an exclusive interview at Imola last Thursday, Russell said that Bahrain weekend demonstrated what he is capable of.

George Russell, Williams, Imola, 2021
Russell is in year three of a three-year Williams deal
“I believe I’m at a level that I’m capable of winning races,” says the 23-year-old. “But I don’t believe I’m at my maximum potential and I think I’ve got a long way to go. There’s a lot for me to improve and there’s a lot more I can bring to the table.

“But equally, I think I’m in the right machinery. I’d like to think I broke through that last year.”

Following Hamilton’s one-race absence after he tested positive for Covid-19, Russell returned to Williams, where he is now in his third season. Driving the Mercedes made him realise “the psychological difficulties of performing at the highest level of sport”, he explains.

“The joys of success are even greater and the downs of the disappointment are even greater, much deeper. That is probably the biggest thing I took away from that.”

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Life at Williams inevitably involves less pressure, he says. “I’ve had a relatively easy ride, been under the radar over the past two-and-a-half years. Never in the points, doing my trade.

“If I’m a little bit off the pace it goes a little bit unnoticed. If I have a great result, again, not overly noticed. You come away from most weekends relatively satisfied, even though you knew there could have been half a tenth more maybe in it.”

Russell joined Bottas – and passed him – in Bahrain last year
Those small differences mean much more at the sharp end of the field. “That [Sakhir] Grand Prix, for example, half a tenth more would have meant I was on pole position and my feeling on Saturday evening would have been completely different to what it was.

“That’s what sport should be about and what Formula 1 it should be about. So to conclude, the biggest thing I learnt was actually things aren’t going to get psychologically easier fighting at the front, if anything it’ll get harder.”

Russell didn’t go into the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix weekend expecting his race would end in a wheel-to-wheel fight with a Mercedes. Having reflected on his reaction to it, a day later Russell posted a contrite apology to Bottas, his team and fans on social media.

His generation of drivers have grown up with the facility for immediate communication to their fan base which the likes of Hamilton came to later in their careers. While there is inevitably some scepticism over whether drivers are tapping out their own Tweets, Russell stresses “anything that I put out there is all authentic.”

“I obviously have somebody helping me in managing my accounts,” he adds. “But all the messaging, all the photos are signed off – either created by me, and then signed off by me. And that’s pretty much the extent of it.”

Russell enthusiastically joined Lando Norris, Alexander Albon and other F1 drivers in live-streaming their simracing exploits when the pandemic hit last year. He is, however, acutely aware of the potential downsides to social media.

Social media has “truly worrying” aspects
“I try to avoid it,” he admits. “Social media is a slippery and dangerous slope for all of us because everybody is just being shown in their best light. It can be very demoralising for a lot of people when you see all of these, whatever it may be, people that seem to be living an incredible life, people who seem to be incredibly fit or good-looking or whatever it may be, and just seeming to have it all.

“But you’re only seeing the top five percent of everything. And I’m even guilty of it myself. If somebody takes 100 shots of me, I’m not going to choose the worst one, I’m going to choose the best one. And it doesn’t show you a true picture.

“Fortunately for me, I probably just missed the curve, I only got on social media when I was 14 or 15. But for these, the next generation who grew up with it, from the beginning, it’s truly worrying, to be honest.”

This thoughtful communications style is a hallmark of Russell’s. The story of him impressing Wolff with a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation is well-known. Following last year’s race at Imola, where he made the rare error of crashing out during a Safety Car period, he penned a letter to his team apologising for his mistake while justifying his take-no-prisoners approach.

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There is a degree of professionalism in his approach to his career which sets him apart from other drivers. But it isn’t imposed from above, he explains. “I’ve never had a PR agency,” says Russell. “I’ve never had any of that, to be honest.

George Russell, Williams, Imola, 2020
Russell apologised to his team after Safety Car blunder in 2020
“I think it just comes from being mentored correctly by the people around me and understanding what will get the most out of myself and the most out of my team and all of us.”

Penmanship and eloquence were certainly not his forte at school. “No, I was completely the opposite as a school kid,” he laughs. “Maybe that was why…

“No I think [it was] just being mentored correctly from the beginning and understanding what it takes to be a top Formula 1 driver. I understood from the beginning that it takes more than just doing the business on the track. There’s so much more that goes with it and that’s everything behind the scenes to everything in front of the camera. You’ve got to excel at everything you do to be there because at the end of the day there’s only 20 drivers and it’s a ruthless sport.”

It therefore should have come as no surprise that, when Romain Grosjean lost his F1 seat and relinquished his role as a director of the Grand Prix Drivers Association, Russell immediately put his name forward for the job, which is typically taken up by more experienced racers.

“I knew that Romain was stepping down,” he explains. “I’d been in a lot of contact with [chairman] Alex Wurz and I called him one day and I said ‘listen, I’d be really interested in stepping up into that position, what do you think?’ He said ‘I think you’d be great at it and go for it, put your name forward’.”

The GPDA has chiefly concerned itself with safety matters in the past. Those remain as relevant today as they have in previous years, as Grosjean’s shocking crash in Bahrain last year demonstrated.

Asked what else the GPDA should concern itself with, Russell answers quickly: “Improving racing. Good races attract more fans.”

GPDA role means he can “help the sport grow”
“I equally just want to help the sport grow, want to improve,” he explains. “Help the sport grow.

“The drivers’ input is a key one. Ultimately, we’re in a unique position that there’s only 20 of us driving the cars and we’re in a slightly different position to the other 2,000 people that go around the F1 circus, whether it’s with regard to safety or circuit improvement or whatever it may be, the whole range of things.

“The grid procedures we’re doing with the We Race As One and the certain gestures people are doing, trying to bring everybody together because we are a united force. And to be honest, even over my three years in F1, I have noticed the growth of how united we are, especially last year. It’s after almost every drivers’ meeting, all the drivers stay on together just the 20 of us, to talk about certain issues.”

With one generation of F1 talents potentially eyeing retirement over the coming years – Raikkonen, Vettel, Alonso, Hamilton – Russell identifies Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc as his two likely long-term rivals. “They’re the two I suspect will be at the top in the future,” he says.

“Max in this past year and a half, two years, has really come into another level, to be honest. I think that has been a factor of firstly being an incredible driver, but being in the same team, just that consistency is something that just naturally comes along.

“Charles is only in his third season now with Ferrari, I still think it takes a bit of time for all of these small updates to be directed in a way that will suit you personally as a driver. But they’re both absolutely incredible drivers and they’re going to be able top of this for the coming 10 years.”

He predicts a “fierce rivalry” between them in the future. “So I look forward to that challenge whether that’s fighting against them in different cars or whether that’s fighting against each other as team mates.”

George Russell, Hitech, F3, Imola, 2016
Mercedes backed Russell through the junior categories
Russell’s reference to potentially appearing as a team mate to one of them suggests he heard McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown’s recent prediction that both of Mercedes drivers will leave at the end of the season and the team will promote Russell while luring Verstappen away from Red Bull.

Alternatively, that he could end up outside the Mercedes fold. But he insists he’s “not really thought about that” and is secure in the belief the three-pointed star will do what’s best for his career.

“Mercedes have always put their faith in me and everything’s been on course. They signed me in 2016, put me in GP3 and the goal was win it. Then it was F2, goal was win it and you’ll be in F1. And the deal at the time was a three-year deal. We’re in our third season now.

“What will happen for next year? Time will only tell, but they’ve had my back and faith in me since day one and I continue to have my faith in them, that they’ll give me the best opportunity for me to succeed in the future.”

Russell could hardly have given a better account of himself to the team in Bahrain last year, but he is adamant he could do much better if he gets the seat full-time.

“I managed to get that fantastic opportunity last year but in Bahrain I thought I was not even close to the limits because I didn’t know the car, the set-up wasn’t designed for me, I was uncomfortable, I was in pain while driving. I just made the most of a difficult situation.

“I thought that was the absolute maximum potential given the experience, but nowhere near the potential what could have been, had that been a full season.”

Running in the lead for so long, only to be relegated to ninth at the finish, was undoubtedly a major disappointment. However Russell says the challenges he faced earlier in his career equipped him well to confront them.

Imola brought another “massive disappointment”
“I think in life, if you have a smooth run, when you get to the top, as I said about Bahrain, you’re always going to have massive disappointments. And if you don’t know how to deal with them, that’s going to brew up inside of you, eat you up and affect your performance.

“Moments for me like last year in Imola, crashing, or in my junior career, I had a really tough season in F3 2015 and in karting in 2013. They were my… 2013 and 2015 were my two toughest years of motorsport and that has really helped me to develop.

“That race in Bahrain with Mercedes obviously was an incredibly difficult pill to swallow but I’m over it now and I’m past it and through it. I think that had I had a different upbringing and a different career path, it would probably still be here haunting me today.”

If that was a difficult pill to swallow, what followed in Sunday’s race was a tougher and different kind of disappointment to come to terms with.

Following his heat-of-the-moment reaction, the Monday apology was a return to the Russell we recognise. The coping mechanism has kicked in, and he is already pressing on with the task of demonstrating to Mercedes he is the next driver they need.

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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...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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55 comments on “Massive disappointments happen, I can deal with them: Exclusive interview with George Russell”

  1. All this talk of Russell convinces me that every driver on the grid should be given a chance to drive that Mercedes, just like he was. At least a quali lap each, if nothing more, by rota starting with the other Williams and working up the field to RB. This could happen by arrangement, say on a Thursday afternoon.
    Of course, in that invincible machine all will be superman and champs, but some more so than others…

    1. Rodber again. Bah Humbug… Again.

      1. I understand your disliking of him, but attacking? I don’t attack him. Only if some dangerous threat shows up, you know what we do.

  2. Now go and do the same exclusive interview with Bottas and hear what he says. I personally believe he is not yet ready to be GPDA director. Verstappen is a guy who expresses his feelings without any hesitation, he is the best suited guy, or Hamilton. But I am pretty sure that both are not interested.

    Didn’t know that this year is his final contract year with merc. Now I know why he talks cocky about mercedes seat. I will say it again, if Verstappen will be available Merc will not hesitate to put the ink into the paper with him. GR is just a backup plan, or just a Bottas NG version (new generation).

    1. Kristína Mišková
      22nd April 2021, 16:46

      It´s his last year of Williams not Mercedes deal :D

      Reply moderated
  3. The pressure on Bottas is gong to be huge now to prove that he deserves to stay in the seat. Another few performances where’s he’s unable to out-pace a Williams and Mercedes will be forced to act.

    Toto was fine with Bottas cruising around miles behind Hamilton because even then, he’d end up in the top 3 or 4. The car had enough of an advantage that he could start 2nd or 3rd, have a bad start, struggle to overtake and still end up with a decent haul of points. This year, he’s going to find himself getting swallowed up by the midfield and that means more incidents, more mistakes and overall, less points.

    We’ve seen with Albon and Gasley how being a few tenths slower than your team mate when you’re not in a dominant car means you stop driving around in clear air at the front and start getting involved in the midfield battle. At the front, you can control things but once you drop into the midfield, you are much more heavily reliant on luck.

  4. I think a few people are in for a shock later this year as I fully believe Mercedes will extend Bottas’ contract for 2022. They keep on emphasising how important the team dynamic is to them and how much they value people focussing on the team and brand above all else, particularly their own result. The Rosberg/Hamilton era scars are still raw.

    Bottas is quick enough and is a solid team man, he fits the bill perfectly. Russell is probably quicker, but he is also more selfish, in more of a hurry and is probably more willing to put himself in a position where improving his result is prioritised over improving the team result. His confidence/arrogance (depending on how you take him) is getting clearer by the day with each interview he gives and was plain for all to see last Sunday.

    Mark my words – Russell won’t be in a Williams next season, but he won’t be in the W13 either.

    1. @geemac I disagree. Firstly I do not buy for a second “the Rosberg/Hamilton era scars are still raw.” What are these guys? Pansies? Come on, mid-2016 Nico re-signed with them and was to be there at least through 2018 if he hadn’t decided instead to retire. It’s now been 5 years and it’s still raw when their actions showed they wanted more of it? No way.

      I think all the peace and love, roses and kittens rhetoric post-Nico, is just that…rhetoric. Their hands were forced once Nico retired, and VB was the best they could do in a pinch, and then when they coincidentally found themselves with a bit of competition from Ferrari, with a smattering from DR and Max here and there, that was their opening to then take more of an all for LH stance, peace and love is better, as indicated by VB’s continued lack of pressure on him and his continued one-year-at-a-time contracts. No need to worry about splitting points anymore between the two drivers. Flip side of that…had Nico stayed they may have continued to shut out the top 2 slots on the grid and Ferrari and RBR wouldn’t have made quite the inroads they did.

      I think it only makes perfect sense for them to cut VB loose for next year and start GR off with them on a clean slate with the wholly new cars when the continuity of staying with one’s existing drivers is less crucial. They need an heir apparent to replace LH eventually, and that is certainly not VB, and there is no better time to do that than with the start of the new chapter when they can mould GR and he to them from a clean page.

      As to keeping VB just because it is safe and roses and kittens and he won’t rock LH’s boat? Gag me with a spoon. They wanted more LH/NR not less. Why wouldn’t they want young GR with whom imho it would be more of a learning time for him and a passing of the torch with LH vs. LH/NR?

      I will be very surprised and disappointed if Mercedes does not replace VB with GR starting next year. And I think GR will be too.

      1. I’m hoping you’re right, getting tired of bottas not providing competition at mercedes, so that whenver merc have the clear fastest car there won’t be competition at all, it’s not bottas’ fault, he’s like barrichello performance wise, it’s mercedes’ fault, and that race in merc russel looked absolutely insane, all the cards to be a top driver, so it’s a travesty he’s wasting time at williams.

      2. [Mercedes] need an heir apparent to replace LH eventually, and that is certainly not VB

        This is why I think Valteri leaves Mercedes at the end of 2021. Even last year he barely took second in the WDC and I suspect it will be worse this year. How long will Lewis want to stay? Will George be willing to languish near the back in the Williams much longer before he takes some other opportunity? What would Mercedes do if George took another offer then Lewis retires? Bring in Esteban Ocon? Some promising rookie? 2022 is a fresh slate for a new driver. Mercedes will bring on George for 2022 but they won’t indicate so and risk hindering Valteri’s performance this season.

    2. Kristína Mišková
      22nd April 2021, 16:49

      What you mean by he wont be in Williams ? There is no other team except Mercedes he can go :D

      Reply moderated
    3. @geemac Yes. Russell and Bottas were team mates for one race and seems there was already bad blood and a feud bubbling after a single crash. Of course the squeeze was likely Bottas venting some of his pent-up frustration as well, but Russell showed Mercedes that he’s not wingman material so Bottas for next year likely I agree. Shame though.

  5. Clean cut and on another article from a different publication, well-mannered – these seem to be the features very much desired by many (British mainly?) F1 fans. There have been a lot of hopes vested in them to be, not only the next generation of stars, but also the ones that “fit” more to people’s sensibilities (clean-cut, well-mannered, well-spoken, seemingly well-brought up, from middle class families). It is almost you could hear a sigh of relief. Finally, there is no jarring of emotions being forced to grudgingly liking or admiring Hamilton’s prowess. Many and many fans of course couldn’t care less if Ham does not fit the clean-cut brigade or his not so clean cut fashion sense. Although Ham was very clean cut in his early years. Hamilton has been generous in praising these two. Norris seems more welcoming of Ham’s supportive words etc. GR appeared to be less so. One could sense the reluctance to acknowledge a fellow Brit who’s achieved so much. Very interesting nuances at play here. Not sure if Russel is actually arrogant, but he has absolutely no idea the very high level at which you have to manage on every aspect when performing at the top (emotions, manners, skills), not just once, or twice but consistently. These are what Ham and other top performers have been able to grow and demonstrate. I was heartbroken for Russell at Sakhir last year, but his treatment of Bottas last Sunday was a revelation. I’m sure Russell will be forgiven very soon though. F1 has short memories and being clean-cut helps …a lot, it would appear.

    Reply moderated
  6. All the great drivers have had a spectacular crash as a result of ambition in the raw. It didn’t do them any harm in the longer term and it’ll likely be the same for George. Often said that basic speed is more important than leaving 1% margin all the time. What the greats learn is there’s a time and a place where taking right to the edge is a gamble worth taking, one where they may not come out ahead, but they will live to fight another corner. George isn’t quite there yet.

    Feuds don’t help, apologising to Bottas for the unjustified ‘afters’ was the right thing to do.

    Equally Bottas may reflect that if he’d recognised the danger of forcing his opponent into a very marginal grip situation. The lottery of a car already travelling faster than his crashing at high speed in his immediate vicinity, that’s a situation he could have avoided, then they both would likely have finished in the points. Poor decision on his part too.

    1. @frasier Agreed and I think not just a poor decision on VB’s part, and I’m not saying he did anything too malicious, but nonetheless I do think there was a bit of malice in his squeezing of GR when GR had such a speed advantage, because he knew he was not only about to be passed by a Williams, but for it to be GR? And he knew it was him from his radio comm. No, I think VB was a bit desperate at that moment. Trying to save his career, while GR is trying to make his.

  7. As to Zak Brown’s prediction for next year, I would both be very surprised to see LH retire after this season, and I would also be very surprised if they could lure Max away from RBR. I mean, if they somehow miraculously wanted to or could, they sure would diminish their competition and at the same time enhance their own strength, no question there.

    I don’t think LH is done yet, and I certainly think that he will want it known worldwide once he is on his last season so that he can enjoy all the accolades and glad handing and the ego stroking that would come with all his farewell races as each venue comes up. He’ll want every race in his last season to be the LH farewell show. There is no way, imho, he’s going to just race this season and then in the end say, “ok I’m done… see you.”

    As to Max being lured from RBR? Why, when it is his home and he may now be in the car to beat, or at least one of them, finally seemingly Championship potential, and where RBR are only building themselves up big time? Sure, perhaps if what precipitated any potential for that was to be LH leaving Mercedes, then I suppose he’d have to have a think on it, for then he wouldn’t be fearing going to LH’s team where they want it to be roses and kittens by many people’s opinion, but anyway…no I think Max’s home is at RBR for a good time yet, especially with all the promise they are showing.

    Why would he take a chance going to Mercedes who may not be the benchmark anymore at at least for sure will be more of an unknown for next year with the clean slate. At a bare minimum, if Max has a sideways thought about Mercedes in his mind, he would be very very prudent to at least see what they bring for the new chapter rather than risk leaving the very team that might be the new benchmark for all any of us knows, only to hand that to someone else?

    I mean, hey, Zak is a million miles more inside F1 than I of course, but I think he is way off the mark with his predictions on these two drivers. LH/Merecedes aren’t done yet, and Max/RBR are only just getting started in earnest.

    1. Wasn’t it suggested that Zak only said it as a joke (i.e. he was just winding up both Horner and Wolff)? The indication in the German press was that it was a jokey comment that Zak made at their expense and that he doesn’t actually think that will happen.

      1. anon I suppose that is very possible, for I do think that opinion is a joke, lol, but indeed if that is the case the article above shouldn’t have presented it as a prediction, and should have either not included Zak’s ‘prediction’ at all, or at a minimum said Zak was being tongue in cheek. Obviously I have taken it as a bonafide prediction based on how it was presented in the above article.

  8. 23! His career arc reminds me a little of Adam Gilchrist’s, held out of the top job for a seeming eternity while demonstrating mastery. But Gilly still had enough left in him to literally change the game when he landed.

  9. Without saying so much, he clearly feels that he is wasting his time at Williams and wants that Mercedes seat desperately. And he might very well deserve it. But I doubt he’ll get it as long as Hamilton is (comfortably) the lead driver there. We saw how Hamilton rushed back to reclaim the seat in Abú-Dhabi, despite still feeling the effects of his infection.

    1. Yeah @gpfactsandnumbers + @geemac, I really wouldn’t be surprised if Mercedes are rather happy to keep Hamilton and have him be supported by Bottas to win the championship by being close enough to be a benchmark on quali pace, have a few races a year where he really has it locked in but mostly is just a no conflict team mate.

      I think it is pretty clear that Hamilton is defenitely not looking back on some of that period with Nico positively. And I can really see how Wolff is happy not to have to manage that. For the same reasons, I cannot really see them going for Max unless Lewis decides to leave.
      George might be less expensive than Max, but then he is still unproven. But he wil surely want to see the same happen what we saw at Ferrari with Leclerc and Vettel, and do what he can to make that happen.

      1. Ah, sorry @gpfacts, I thought you have changed the tag.

  10. He made it clear the team’s junior driver should not have been fighting so hard for position with one of its works cars.

    This is so UNETHICAL. Reeks of race fixing

    Reply moderated
    1. That’s F1, it’s been the same for years. It’s the same with AT and Red Bull, and it’s the same for Haas and Ferrari. Come on, let’s not pretend this is somehow unique.

    2. Totally agree. This is truly the definition of bad sportmanship along with killing ambition at young drivers. I dont know how Toto could have been more wrong. Maybe he is just a good boss when there is no pressure?

  11. In Portugal I hope a journalist or one of the Sky presenters publicly challenges Wolff over his whining about Russell daring to try and overtake the works cars.
    Mercedes are only supposed to have two drivers in the race. If Toto wants to tell George not to be aggressive with his cars, then he should have dropped Bottas and given him the seat.

    1. Better, the FIA should step in. This I a clear example of influencing the competition.

      1. That would be nice, getting annoyed by wolff.

      2. I agree here. This should be investigated. Furthermore McLaren and AM should be furious over the remark too. It basically means they are not allowed to overtake a Mercedes on the race track. Toto might as well buy the championship the, why bother racing at all. Knowing F1 for over 40 years, nothing will happen with it but in its essence this is very poor sportmanship and unethical

        1. Mayrton No I disagree. TW was talking about GR’s ‘global perspective,’ as in, he is a Mercedes driver under their wing as opposed to Mac and AM being customer teams whose drivers are not under the Mercedes umbrella in the same way as GR is. Of course he would never tell those teams and their drivers they are not allowed to compete.

          When it comes to TW’s comments as they relate to VB and GR, and GR ‘not racing’ the works team, I think he had to walk a political tight rope with that, mainly because there was a crash, and because both drivers blamed the other, and because VB should not have been down there in the order fighting a Williams. If GR had gotten by cleanly, or if VB had defended cleanly, this would have been a non-issue, or even a feather in GR’s cap, and egg on VB’s face, or a non-pass as we ‘should expect’ for a Williams Vs a Mercedes.

          I think what we heard from TW was him expertly defending both drivers while harming their egos the least in doing so, by trying not to take sides. I take it as an indication that he needs to keep VB while mentally for the season, and he needs to keep GR whole as a Mercedes junior driver who is soon going to be on the works team. And I think Mac and AM get that and the last thing they will be is furious and wanting an investigation. They know GR is a Mercedes driver as much as he is a Williams driver. Their drivers are Max drivers and AM drivers full stop. They know TW is just managing his drivers with his wording. Personally I think in his mind he is rolling his eyes about VB and clapping GR on his back for showing some stuff.

          1. Should have read “needs to keep VB ‘whole’ mentally for the season…”

  12. Seems a sensible lad. Hopefully he will learn from it and have the grace to apologise to Bottas in person. Who’s to say that Russell wouldn’t have experienced the handling problems that Bottas had? Race/Championship winning cars can’t afford compromises in their set up, hence the “knife edges”.

  13. He really says the right things and it’s very easy to like him, but I guess to be expected being heavily ‘mentored’ as he says. (who is the super mentor here, does anyone know?)

    I hope he will drop the tough guy stuff and we finally get out of that era. I was really expecting he would be the new civilized generation. Wouldn’t be surprised if the Mercedes doors were closed because of this. Would be a shame though. The Sakhir performance hinted at something very special which would be wasted in the midfield, but then there’s always Red Bull.

    Anyway a nice and timely interview, well done.

    1. Agreed @balue. That kind of tough guy vibe beneath the ‘clean-cut’ surface isn’t going to earn him any favours from Toto in being paired with either Lewis or Bottas in 2022. He’s super quick, I’m sure of that, but he’s kind of acting like someone who thinks he’s a veteran of the sport before actually doing the hours if that makes sense. Dunno, never thought I’d feel that way about Russell until now.

  14. Norris, Sainz or Ricciardio are probably better in and out of the car than Russell, assuming Mercedes don’t want to risk an internal Max vs Lewis war. Without an inside track to Wolff I don’t see why he’d be getting anywhere near that car.

  15. More of a press platform than exclusive interview.

  16. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    22nd April 2021, 21:45

    Great interview on my favorite F1 site. Keep’em coming.

    Whether he remains with Mercedes, Russell is a huge talent.

  17. Very interesting read. I do like Russell a lot, however this last race was so poor. I thought like many others he was going over to check up on a fellow driver after the huge crash, but I was very wrong indeed. Kind of showed the true character beneath the ‘clean-cut’ exterior or whatever is mentioned here, or whatever apology can be issued after the event.
    Maybe I’m being too harsh, not sure. Something is off.

    1. He thought Bottas squeezed him harder than he actually did. He didn’t realize he was overreacting until he saw the replays.

      If you watch Kimi’s onboard you can see what triggered George’s move onto the grass. Yeah he overreacted but the track was narrow and wet and they were moving at 200 mph.

      George’s reaction is quite tame compared to the reactions of other drivers after being forced off the track (or even thinking they were forced off track).

  18. Wow, massive shade thrown at Norris, not considered a rival. Also a lot of immaturity shown in this interview. Assuming Mercedes has his back, complaining about social media while fully leveraging it, instead of ignoring it as Vettel does.

    Doesn’t make me like him at all really 🤷‍♂️

    I’m always reminded of how he said he rated Albon as a top driver and how Red Bull needed to get their act together… And look where Albon ended up. Wouldn’t surprise me to see Russell their too tbh.

  19. I can see how someone would make the mistake he did on the race and I can even imagine that right after such a shock emotions run high but what I don’t get is the fact that after, I am assuming, calming down, seeing the replays and thinking about it he still more or less doubled down on blaming Bottas for the crash (before the apology), lamenting the danger that Bottas put them through which was pretty shameless. Even the apology was more about him loosing it after the crash rather than admitting that it was his fault that they were there in the first place. And now we get an image damage control article (I mean no offence to Racefans, it just feels that way in my opinion), it’s hard to find simpathy for him. Not that he needs it, he is clearly a very good driver. I hadn’t even considered a Russell Bottas rivalry on track but it might be fun to watch if they ever find each other while racing again this season.

    Reply moderated
    1. And now we get an image damage control article (I mean no offence to RaceFans, it just feels that way in my opinion)

      I appreciate no offence is intended here but to be clear, it is completely incorrect to suggest the article arose as a result of the crash in any way because, as stated in the article, the interview behind it was conducted prior to the crash.

      1. My apologies, the article clearly states that the interview was conducted on Thursday at Imola and I did not pick up on that.

        Reply moderated
  20. I just laughed when i read Russell said its relatively easy at Williams. No pressure etc. When it actually mattered last weekend he buckled under the pressure and binned it. And thats the difference between good and great drivers. Most of the time when greats are under pressure they find an extra gear extra power extra speed extra skill and make it work. Russell failed.

    1. I don’t see it that way at all. It was VB that was the desperate one. GR was racing him and trying to pass him, and at such a speed difference GR had to jink right when VB starting moving right on someone who was carrying way more speed. Relatively easy at Williams, and no pressure, just means he hasn’t the car to fight for wins and podiums, and once he does that brings a difference kind of pressure and means fighting better cars and drivers when further up towards the sharper end of the grid.

    2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      23rd April 2021, 13:03

      Yes, but most people consider Verstappen a great driver, myself included, and I’m still trying to understand how Max didn’t spin on the way to Turn 1 collecting Lewis and Checo under massive acceleration. It was a miracle. When it’s raining, it can happen to anyone, even Lewis.

  21. You comment this every single Russell article. Crashstappen guy, are you annoyed when I call you the Crashstappen guy? Because I recognize you for saying Verstappen was to blame for the Sakhir karma incident.

  22. I don’t see what your point is. Russellamos is the most talented junior driver in F1. Sorry Lando. Are you saying George is a bad driver because he is willing to participate in F1 even if that means no possibility of scoring points unless half the field is wiped out?

    Personally I think the aggression George showed in Imola will be a major part of his future success in F1 despite the embarrassing and expensive spin.

    1. @ryanoceros You’re replying to him?

      Reply moderated
    2. @ryanoceros “Russellamos”? Is that a reference to Sergio Ramos?

  23. Anyway, Maldonado is a meme legend. Comparing anyone to Maldonado would make him look like a laughing stock. Mentioning him in Mazepin articles isn’t worth it, but just wait in a few years time. That is all, thank you.

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