The reason Russell feels fortunate to have experienced ‘brutal’ F1 moments

George Russell says he hopes the “brutal” moments he has experienced so far in his Formula 1 career will stand him in good stead mentally when he eventually gets the chance to fight for world championships.
George Russell (GBR) Williams Racing.
George Russell (GBR) Williams Racing.

The Briton was running inside the top eight and appeared on course to score his first points for Williams in last weekend’s Styrian Grand Prix before an engine-related issue forced him into retirement.

It marked the latest gut-wrenching moment for Russell in F1, who also missed out on points at Imola when he crashed out with Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas.

“It’s just typical isn’t it?” Russell said of his race-ending issue ahead of this weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix.

“It doesn’t happen in the two years when we’re last in every race but the one time we’re truly in the points. We were on course for a good result, we were on the right strategy, the car was feeling good, we were really fast on Friday - such a shame.

“But let’s see, this is Formula 1, it’s never meant to be easy. It’s a brutal sport at times.”

Last season, Russell crashed out under the Safety Car while running inside the points at Imola and narrowly missed out on the top-10 at Mugello.

Russell then got the chance to sample front-running machinery as he made his Mercedes debut at the Sakhir Grand Prix when Lewis Hamilton was ruled out with COVID-19. Russell came agonisingly close to claiming a dream maiden F1 win, only for a botched pit stop to cruelly end his hopes.

George Russell (GBR) Williams Racing FW43B.
George Russell (GBR) Williams Racing FW43B.

Asked about the mental toll of missing out on such a big result, Russell said: “Mentally, [it’s] very difficult.

“I think my first year I took it in my stride because I was just so excited to be in Formula 1 and learning so much, and obviously now into my first year I just feel ready to score some good result, and I feel the team really deserve it with the progress they’ve been making.

“But mentally it’s not easy. We’re all winners, and all here to win, and it has been a bit of a rollercoaster this past year. Imola last year, Mugello last year, Bahrain obviously, and then Imola again this year - it’s been a lot of difficult races to deal with.

“I feel fortunate because hopefully in the future having the chance to fight for victories and world championships, I’ve experienced a lot more disappointments than others, so it’ll make me mentally stronger and actually help me in the difficult moments in the future because for sure there will be some.”

Despite his Styrian GP disappointment, Russell is hopeful Williams can replicate its strong performance at the second race to be held at the Red Bull Ring this weekend.

“I think we just have so much confidence at the moment that we’re doing a good job, especially on the Saturday,” he explained.

“We’ve had some really strong performances, and that confidence comes into me, then goes into the team, we’re understanding the car more and more, and it’s little things that make a big difference.

“There’s one tenth splitting five to eight cars or whatever, on a track as short as this, it’s about minimising those mistakes and if you do a good job you can jump quite far up the order.

“Last weekend it was bizarrely not windy at all, the weekend before it was tricky with the tyres, we were strong for other reasons. I truly hope this can carry on, but until we get back to a more normal circumstance, longer circuits, and maybe windier conditions, we will then see the new true performance of the car.

“But until then let’s try and make the most of it and try and score some points this weekend.”

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