George Russell, Williams, Red Bull Ring, 2021

Russell ready for Mercedes chance after “three years working my way up”

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In the round-up: George Russell says he feels ready to take up the challenge of joining world champions Mercedes.

In brief

Russell eager for Mercedes chance

Mercedes have confirmed Lewis Hamilton will continue to drive for them for the next two seasons, but the identity of his team mate is yet to be confirmed.

The team’s CEO Toto Wolff is known to be weighing up the possibility of replacing Valtteri Bottas with Russell. However the Williams driver played down the possibility of forming an all-British line-up with Hamilton at the team.

“I guess, hypothetically, that could be exciting to some, especially British fans,” he said in a podcast for Silverstone. “But I won’t talk about hypotheticals just yet. I just want to be fighting for victories, fighting for world championships.”

The Williams driver said he feels “ready” for the opportunity. “I’ve spent three years working my way up from the back to the midfield, performing at my absolute maximum, trying to get the most out of my team around me. And I think we’ve done a really good job and a really solid job.

“But it is different when you are fighting for victories and fighting for championships, as I experienced in my junior career. That’s what I live for and. Hopefully that day will come sooner rather than later. I got a small taste last year, but I want to taste it week in, week out.”

No early release for Aston Martin-bound aerodynamicist

Red Bull’s head of aerodynamic Dan Fallows will not leave them to join rivals Aston Martin until after the 2022 F1 season, team principal Christian Horner has insisted.

“Our situation with Dan is really clear,” said Horner. “He’s working on the car, he’s working on next year’s car. He’s still got a significant amount of time.

“He only signed a contract at the end of last year. So there’s a significant period of time before mid-’23 comes up. So, we’ll obviously keep him busy during the time, during the rest of his contract.”

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Comment of the day

One person deserves the blame for the CART-IRL split, says @Bullmello:

Tony George was the worst thing to happen to the CART/Indy Car series of racing. This was sad. Working things out could happen then, but Tony George tried to use the one ace in his pocket – the Indy 500. That was all he had.

He started this new series which drove this split open. That ruined both CART and the new Indy Racing League. Took a number of years turn racing into shambles. In time George was out of running the Indy Racing League, CART was bankrupted. Eventually Champ Car and Indy Racing League merged in 2008. IndyCar name was used again after the merger.

Maybe over the last five years or so IndyCar has been starting to expand with fans once again. What has been lost over 20 years thanks to Tony George?

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On this day in motorsport

  • 35 years ago today Nelson Piquet denied Williams team mate Nigel Mansell a pole position on home ground at Brands Hatch

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  • 39 comments on “Russell ready for Mercedes chance after “three years working my way up””

    1. He has proven to be as quick or maybe quicker than hamilton in the same car with a whole lot more racecraft. If he is as consistent and up for the presure has yet yo be proven. If he is… then it’s a champ.

      1. NeverElectric
        12th July 2021, 4:35

        No he hasn’t.
        He proved he was quicker than Bottas.

      2. He proved he’s faster than Valtteri. “Lot more racecraft” he definitely hasn’t proved that either. He’s proven nothing in comparison to Hamilton. Although i cant wait to see him and Hamilton in the same car.

        Reply moderated
      3. I think he should be given the shot, but your assertion he has proven to be quicker let alone has more race craft is absurd to the maximum. And this is coming from someone who finds Hamilton to be really annoying.

        1. Hamilton rarely overtakes. When he iw not in front leading a race he has difficult times complaining the car cant handle it. He has trouble to quickly make a pass. Russell didnt have problems at all overtaking with it. So its not the car being difficult its racecraft. Never seen hamilton pass bottas twice in a race too

          1. Yes, he was really impressive, to me he seems like verstappen, so up to you: do you consider verstappen better than hamilton (think he could be at this point)? Then russel is better than hamilton, in any case I’d like to see them against each other in the same car.

            1. Yes i do, verstappen has proven to be able to control a race, to think ahead and making minimal mistakes, like lewis. He also has.proven to have a lot of racecraft, “balls” to go for it. Like Russel. Lewis had that too but the dominant car has soften him too much. Back in his best days he would be up there but in my mind he isn’t up there anymore

          2. @cdfemke – out of curiosity, how long have you been following/watching F1?

            1. From 1990 onwards i follow the championships. Before that just single races

      4. I wonder what Wolff is waiting for. It’s not like he doesn’t know already who he wants, so why delay the announcement?

        Maybe he’s afraid Bottas will stop being a good little wingman if he announces Russell, or the inevitable uproar in the British press should he announce Bottas?

      5. There is a genuine chance he will be quicker than Hamilton straight away. The gap between Lewis and Bottas (the latter being very mediocre) is not that big as say at the RedBull pair. So a real threat to Lewis. Toto should go for it. It must not have been much fun when Lewis was battling Rosberg, but it did make the team improve.

        1. My view is that they will continue with Bottas anyway. The way Wolff is always harping on about team values and loyalty while at the same time using Bottas as wingman and giving him one-year contracts means that the loyalty value is toward Hamilton, and the lower classes is not even seen as part of the equation. I’ve worked with Austrians before and know they are extremely hierarchic, and with this kind of attitude Russell has no real chance even if Wolff is his manager. We all saw it after the Imola crash he was incensed that Russell didn’t even know his place on the Mercedes ladder and had the temerity to go above his station, even if he in reality was racing for another team. It reveals how deep rooted his view is. Of course Wolff is only part owner so we’ll see, but I bet the others have been told in no uncertain terms that to win it must be a clear no.1 and no. 2 driver.

          1. Correct that was a big fail day for Russel, first Lewis then Bottas.
            If Mercedes lose the constructors title they will look to that race. Maybe is Bottas a more safe option while George tune his skills more. Toto is German minded so expect he will handle so.

          2. @balue I disagree. TW was not ‘incensed.’ At no point did he come off like that whatsoever. TW was much more diplomatic than you are implying, and I found that he was simply put in a spot where he had to answer questions in the media and had to pick a side, and he did so in what I thought was an artful way. The harshest thing he said about his current driver VB was that he shouldn’t have been fighting a Williams in the first place. And then towards GR he simply reminded him of his ‘global responsibility’ as a Mercedes driver. GR ended up apologizing, but note he has never apologized for the pass attempt on VB. He has never taken the blame for their collision. What he did take the blame for was his behaviour and his words in the heat of the moment. What I took from it all is that GR showed TW that he is indeed an heir apparent to LH on the team.

            Your last sentence I couldn’t disagree more. There is no way TW is asserting to Mercedes that in no uncertain terms they need a clear no1 and no2. That was not the case with LH/NR and he had wanted to continue with NR post-2016 having re-signed him mid-2016 for two more years. It is in no way about a clear 1 and 2, but it is about a clear heir apparent to LH, which VB is most certainly not. And if you think TW is the hierarchist that you claim him to be, then you should agree he will be able to control GR and keep him from bothering LH too much until he retires, and in my view all the while have GR filling in a void for WCC points that VB too often doesn’t.

            1. @robbie Wolff basically said he would throw Russell out to Renault Clio Cup for taking risks with a Mercedes and causing a car write-off (in the cost cap era), and next day Russell came out to formally apologize, even if it was for racing. It was a cringe moment.

              Russell had stepped out of his position even if he was at a completely different team and racing, and that was even against low ranked Bottas. Just think what would happen should he dare to challenge no. 1 at the team. If Wolff was not incensed at Imola, that was definitely the correct term when his previous no. 2 driver hit his no. 1 at Spa 2014. Borderline shaking with rage. (and when his no. 1 hit his no. 2 at Catalunya 2016, it was predictably just shrugs).

              I doubt Wolff would want anything other than a butler for the no. 2 car, not someone who couldn’t be counted on to know his place. Add to that Hamilton has already said he wants Bottas to continue and it would be disloyal to take someone else, and that’s against Mercedes’ ‘values’.

            2. @balue You have this all wrong. TW was completely joking when he made that Renault Clio Cup joke. And GR didn’t apologize for racing, he apologized for lashing out at VB and tapping him on the helmet and for his remarks in general, on the radio and right after the race.

              2014? Borderline shaking with rage? That’s your imagination but of course all TP’s get upset when one of their drivers takes their other driver and/ or them both out.

              And you do realize, or I guess you don’t want to acknowledge, that LH has also said he’s ready for any teammate and that he also does not get to decide who his teammate is. LH is not Mercedes. Mercedes are the ones ponying up the money for LH to have his success. Mercedes decides who drives for them, not LH. LH gets to have an opinion but nothing beyond that, and he would not consider it disloyal if they didn’t sign his favourite pushover VB, for it is not his company. At this particular time they need to start thinking of their long game when LH is gone. Let’s talk about how disloyal it would be for LH to try to interfere with that, as in, he won’t, because he knows it is not his call. And what would be ‘disloyal’ about TW honouring his ties to Mercedes driver GR anyway?

              Like I say, you’ve got this all wrong. Don’t worry, TW will make sure GR doesn’t take LH out. Or maybe you’re worried GR will be too far ahead for that to be a concern?

    2. That Zandvoort F4 race looked nuts. I still can’t believe they plan on having an F1 race at that track in a few months, it looks really rough and seedy.

      1. @kerrymaxwell How it is considered ‘Grade I’ seems bizarre to me. But I think it’s safe, though it’ll be weird to see F1 cars on it. I imagine overtaking will be near impossible, the width of two F1 cars is basically the width of most of the track. But it’s interesting and the ‘Orange’ fans will make it a spectacle regardless.

        It might be a procession, but at least it’s different, whenever we get a new track, we sort of get the same thing just somewhere else.

        Zandvoort will be a bit like Monaco in the dunes with embankments. Which might sound terrible, but at least it’s a different problem for teams to solve. Those that get it right will be rewarded.

        It’s probably the opposite of when CART raced on a runway in Cleveland, this will be F1 cars on something closer to a kart track. It’ll be something strange, initially anyway.

        1. I wasn’t thinking of the track layout as much as the rather low-rent and run-down appearance. It’s going to take a lot of effort to get it up to snuff for F1 broadcast.

          1. Did you visit the track a lot is improved even the pitsboxes it self. The only thing left to do is the grandstand.

            @bernasaurus If you can drive with 4 F3 cars next to each other i think there is room enough. The straight was widened as most of the track.

        2. @bernasaurus there is enough money swirling around that event that it was pretty much a given that they would find a way to give it Grade 1 status.

    3. I was at Donington this weekend for the British GT/British F3, my first live motorsport since the Before Times. Zak O’Sullivan looks the real deal – hopefully he gets the backing to move onto bigger things.

    4. The Russell narrative is getting tiring for non-English, non-Mercedes supporters, alike to the « It’s Coming Home » with the Euro21

      1. @jeff1s the strange thing is though, in the thread which was asking about whom Mercedes should pick, there were a lot of non-English and non-Mercedes supporters who were saying they should pick Russell – albeit mainly because it seems that thread mainly degenerated into a “bash Bottas” thread.

        1. It did indeed, which is incredibly sad I think. Bottas proved at Williams he was quick and at Mercedes he has proved to be a solid driver who keeps Hamilton honest and occasionally beats him. Given that Hamilton is an all time great, that is nothing to be sniffed at.

          Russell reminds me of a young Fernando Alonso, he’s talking a big game so if he gets the nod I hope for his sake he delivers. To date, other than being quick in qualifying (which, and I hate to be that guy, Bottas is as well) he hasn’t delivered when points have been on offer for him, mostly due to his poor first lap form (which, again, used to be a problem for Bottas as well).

          1. Don’t think many would’ve said hamilton was an all time great in 2013, I don’t like this “hamilton = god” narrative just cause he had a dominant car most of his career and knew how to use it. To me bottas’ performance alongside hamilton was underwhelming and it’s time for him to go, time for someone to give him a challenge in the same team.

            1. @esploratore1 Hamilton is an all time great, that’s a fact. He has the best car in the same way that Schumacher, Senna, Prost, Lauda, Clark and Fangio all had the best equipment at their disposal. It does not dilute his legacy.

            2. @geemac to be honest I really dont know whether Lewis is one of the greats. He is good for sure. I remember thinking many times that if he hadnt been in the car, Mercedes wouldnt have won. So, he certainly is good and deserves a spot in the dominant car. But since he cruises off every weekend from pole (until this year) we hardly got to see any racing from him, just some shenanigans with team mates. I just remember an error infested first 3 years (like all drivers have by the way but people have partial memory about their own hero) where also Niki Lauda called him many names, but not good ones. So hard to say where Lewis stands. On sheer statistics he is the best, thats for sure.

          2. @geemac I think a big part of it is that indeed VB has not ‘kept LH honest’ nearly like NR did. Many fans are fine with the natural number 2 that VB is, but many wanted to see more. He’s been in the WDC car after all. To many he’s made it way too easy for LH.

            And it is a bit unfair for you to criticize GR, for he simply hasn’t had the car to score those points you claim he has squandered. Most think he has performed above his weight class in that car, and when he had the one-off opportunity at Mercedes he impressed.

            VB has simply not earned an extension at Mercedes and GR has earned a shot. Relating it to whose had the capable and necessary car GR embarrassed VB in that one-off that GR barely fit into. At Imola VB was embarrassingly tussling with GR over a point or two when they collided. Imho it would be embarrassing for Mercedes to keep squandering one side of the garage now that there is real competition afoot.

            But hey, probably better for Max and Checo if they keep VB. And of course, next year is more of an unknown.

            1. And it is a bit unfair for you to criticize GR, for he simply hasn’t had the car to score those points you claim he has squandered. Most think he has performed above his weight class in that car, and when he had the one-off opportunity at Mercedes he impressed.

              @robbie I’m talking about specific races where points were on the table. Think about the last race, he was P8 on the grid on the Medium tyre and, had he held position at the start, the race would have come to him and a P8/P9 finish would have been pretty much nailed on. His poor start, which if you watch the battle at the back closely (as I do) he makes quite often, cost him the result. If he did that from a front row start in a Mercedes, it would drop him behind 4/5 slower cars and doom him to a P3/P4 finish at best.

              Another race I was thinking of was Imola last season. While I admit there are mitigating factors, dropping it behind the safety car was his error and his error alone and cost him a likely points finish.

              In addition, people point to the Sakhir GP as undeniable proof that he is the second coming, but he was losing time to Bottas in the phase of the race before the perilous round of pitstops came round (I’d urge you to check the data, it’s clear).

              I hate pointing out negatives in drivers because they are all supremely talented, so this is my final word on the point: I’m not saying Russell should have scored in every race for the last 2 and a half seasons and I’m not denying he is blindingly quick, but he isn’t the nailed on world champion beater that people are making him out to be (yet).

            2. @geemac That’s fair enough, and perhaps I made it sound too much like I thought that GR was beyond criticism. I do consider that his poor starts may be down to the car more than him, and I would think it safe to say if he was in a Mercedes he would simply not be getting the poor starts. Thats just me speculating of course and is for TW to analyze while chatting with GR about said starts, which I’m sure he has race by race, in private.

              For sure I am in no way assuming GR is a WDC beater (yet), but at the same time would be astounded if TW didn’t take him on for 2022 onward as the team’s heir apparent to LH. I see GR as taking the student to LH being the teacher role until LH retires. But I also see him as filling in some voids where VB has not, and assuming RBR are their new challenger carried on into the new chapter, which certainly we will not know until race one of 2022.

              Just as an aside, what I hope for with the new chapter is that for example with the example you gave of GR blowing a start from the front row, dropping himself down to 4/5, relegating himself to a 3/4 finish, I hope with clean air independent cars such a poor start would not relegate any driver to a certain finish, and that indeed the better drivers can race themselves back to the top, unencumbered by dirty air. I get your example in these clean air dependent cars, but for next year I hope and expect we will be thinking differently about drivers chances in races. But that’s going off on a tangent to today’s topic.

      2. /Football comment on/
        Please forgive me for the Schmeichel football jab, but “Has it ever been home???”
        Oh, I can answer that: No, it hasn’t. 😬
        /Football comment off/

    5. So I guess Tony George is a bit like the Boris Johnson of motor racing.

    6. No offense to George, he gave an answer to a question.

      But honestly, is any driver ever going to say, ‘no, I don’t feel ready for a Mercedes seat’.

      For reference, when Nico retired, every driver other than Kimi and Daniil called Toto. Kimi, I can understand. He is himself :)

    7. Only if the Hungarian GP gets cancelled, which is unlikely – otherwise, another Silverstone race is unrealistic, not so much because going there twice ‘separately’ would be pointless, even if I’ve made this point about Bahrain before, but for climatic reasons. Silverstone in October and November is simply unideal for F1. Only European circuits within the Mediterranean climate zone are ideal/at least somewhat okay deep into the Northern Hemisphere autumn.
      Cooler/colder places should be solely reserved for extreme scenarios, not as long as warmer options are available, such as an extra COTA race or Shanghai, etc.

    8. There was something reminiscent of Verstappen in Spain 2016 with Russell’s Mercedes outing last year

      The simple fact is even if Russell joining Hamilton at Mercedes next year isn’t best for Mercedes next year, they can’t leave him languishing in a Williams too long, he needs to be developing in a competitive team. They need to think of the future which clearly isn’t Bottas, so even if a Hamilton/Bottas pairing is optimal next year, it’s worth the sacrifice for the longer term with Russell

      1. @philipgb And I don’t think a LH/VB pairing is optimal next year. With such a drastic change to the cars, there is no better a time when continuity for a driver on a team one year to the next is less important by far than it usually is. It only makes 100% sense to me for them to start GR off fresh with this totally different car while they can mould him to it and the team to him. I cannot see the sense in keeping GR at Williams for one year (or what have you) of their new car only to then switch him over to Mercedes to have to get used to it having perhaps developed other habits. Next year is to me the most absolutely perfect time to start GR off at Mercedes.

    9. There’s still football references here? Oh come on, I was about to say something about the things in this round-up!

    10. While it’s likely to be competitive, it’s by no means a given that Mercedes’ 2022 car will be a race winner. Given the choice, why wouldn’t Russell wait and see what gets produced? As he’s said many times, he’s quite happy at Williams and we know that Williams is on an upward trajectory. Because either team or any team could roll a snake-eyes at the new table, smart money says – to mix a metaphor – stand pat for now.

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