(L to R): Sergio Perez, Red Bull; George Russell, Mercedes; Paul Ricard, 2022

Russell admits he was “trying too hard” in some races last year

2023 F1 season

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George Russell admitted he was “trying too hard” at times during his first season with Mercedes last year and says he has “definitely still room to improve”.

Russell out-scored his seven-times world champion Lewis Hamilton, and claimed Mercedes’ only grand prix victory of 2022 at Interlagos. However he sees plenty of room for improvement in his own performances.

“The things that I learned most from always were those difficult races and of races that, let’s say relatively speaking, failed or underperformed,” Russell told media including RaceFans at the launch of the team’s new car today.

“Looking back on those races, I would say most of the reasons were from trying too hard. And that was a big lesson I learned, that sometimes the harder you try and the more you push, sometimes the result isn’t better.”

He admitted pushing too hard in some races last season. “You’ve got to be very disciplined with yourself sometimes in your approach of knowing how hard to push yourself.

“It’s the same if you went to the gym every single day and was doing maximum bench presses every single day, at one point you’re probably going to injure yourself. It’s not the most efficient way to get stronger.

“That’s representative of racing. If you go out there and you drive the thing in anger, pushing it beyond the limit every single lap, that is not the fastest way to drive. Those races were probably validation for me,” Russell added.

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Knowing he has improvements to make in his own driving has motivated Russell for the season ahead. “I think the great thing with Formula 1 and this sport is it’s constantly evolving and it’s a new challenge every single year,” he said.

2023 Mercedes W14 - Lewis Hamilton colours
Gallery: Mercedes present new W14 F1 car for 2023 season
“There’s definitely still room to improve, and I feel that fills me with confidence because I still felt like I performed at a very, very high level. Even though I know that I’ve got a lot more in my pocket.”

Despite finishing ahead of his team mate in last year’s world championship, Russell says there are still areas he needs to raise his game to match Hamilton.

“I think the main one is probably just the tyre management,” he explained. “It’s something Lewis is very good at, maximising the stints and getting the most out of the tyres across a stint.

“That year under my belt being team mates with him, seeing some of his traits, it’s been really, really beneficial for me. So I feel like I was on quite a steep learning curve in that regard. But still, I feel like I’ve got a lot more to come.”

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Author information

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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2 comments on “Russell admits he was “trying too hard” in some races last year”

  1. I think in some incidences it would be wise for Charles to adopt a similar mindset.

    It would be good to see you both going hammer & tong but not overboard.

    1. I agree. Watching Hamilton and Vettel racing close to the limit at their best was great racing (in recent history). Not so much a fan of the crash or yield racing of the last few years where going overboard now seems the default for many drivers on the grid.

      I do wonder how much of Hamilton’s better tyre management came from him running a more compliant albeit slightly slower setup for qualifying than Russell. I think that was also how he so frequently beat Bottas by a big margin on race pace by sacrificing some qualifying pace for better race pace. He does mean he occasionally might miss out in the qualifying battle but nearly always is faster on race day.

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