Lando Norris feels that he has seen a change in George Russell since the former Williams driver joined Mercedes.
Norris grew up racing alongside Russell in junior categories, and the pair were rivals during the Formula 2 2018 campaign.
It was Russell who clinched the championship that year, but both he and Norris – along with Alex Albon, who placed third in the standings behind the two Britons – made the step up to Formula 1 in 2019.
Russell then spent three years at Williams before switching to the Silver Arrows in 2022.
Norris, meanwhile, joined McLaren and remains at the Woking-based squad, who he has signed to race for until the end of 2025.
Norris: Russell is "different" at Mercedes
Throughout his time in the sport, Norris thinks that the people around him have ensured he has remained the same person.
But in the case of Russell, the McLaren driver believes there has been a change in his character.
"My manager, my trainer, my parents, have always tried to keep me as me, rather than try to shape me," Norris told The Independent.
"I see other drivers get shaped more because of who they are with, the teams they are with, and I don't think that is a good thing. It takes away their personality.
"Growing up with George for instance, was a lot of fun. He was a great person, but it is different at Mercedes – a different vibe and a different atmosphere. I just don’t see as fun a side of him.
"George is a great person, and I feel like the personality he had a few years ago, he would be even more popular."
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Russell doing an "amazing" job, says Norris
Norris does not blame Mercedes for what he views as a change in Russell.
He also acknowledges that the 24-year-old has been performing well at the Silver Arrows.
"I don't think it is Mercedes' fault but the pressure of being with Mercedes, and having Lewis [Hamilton] as a teammate, is never going to be an easy thing," Norris continued.
"You don't want to be seen to be having a fun time and playing around, but on the other side there are no complaints because George is doing an amazing job this year, so it is working for him."
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