After successive championships in GP3 and FIA Formula 2, Mercedes junior George Russell secured a Formula 1 drive with the Williams team. Unfortunately for him, the team was going through one of the worst phases in their storied history, and in his two seasons in the sport, Russell only has three points to his name, scoring all three of those points when he filled in for Lewis Hamilton at the Sakhir Grand Prix.
While he has precious little to show in terms of tangible rewards from his two years in F1, Russell has displayed his pace on numerous occasions, making the odd Q2 appearance and comprehensively beating both his teammates, Robert Kubica and Nicholas Latifi in qualifying across two seasons.
Speaking to Autocar, Russell says, “That's how I am. The days I spent at Mercedes as a reserve driver, I learned that being a Formula 1 driver involved a lot more than simply getting behind the wheel and driving as fast as possible."
"There is nothing like Formula 1. It is a merciless sport and you have to rise above yourself in all areas because otherwise you will be eaten and spit out. I quickly realized that and since then I have been working hard to keep getting better and better," he continues.
Despite what can be counted as a breakthrough year, Russell also experienced a low point in 2020, crashing in Imola behind the Safety Car at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, something for which he takes the blame.
“If you’re the one to make the mistake, it’s always important to hold your hands up because it makes others realise that if they make a mistake, they can hold their hand up and learn from it,” says Russell.
“That was important, not just for myself but also for the team, to say: ‘I messed this up, I’m incredibly sorry and I’m doing my utmost to not let it happen again. I’ll come back stronger and deliver the goods.’”
Despite only being able to benchmark his teammates for the past two seasons, Russell chooses to compare himself to some very big names in order to gain a better understanding of his true potential.
"When I look at a lap of Max or Lewis and I see what they achieve, I immediately know whether I had succeeded, or whether I had been a bit slower than them," he concluded.