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Confident George Russell heads into British Grand Prix set to go up a gear
F1 Sport

Confident George Russell heads into British Grand Prix set to go up a gear

George Russell is understandably in buoyant mood heading into his home race at the British Grand Prix. The 26-year-old rolls into Silverstone this weekend on the back of a win and with no shortage of confidence.

When asked to appraise his standing among Formula One’s top drivers he is unhesitant. “I believe I’m as good as anyone,” he says. “I think I’ve proven that.”

He has had to do so against the toughest of measures in the form of his Mercedes teammate, Lewis Hamilton, which raises the question: if Hamilton is the GOAT, where is Russell?

Having been relentlessly questioned about his relationship with the seven-times world champion since the driver from King’s Lynn joined Mercedes in 2022, he replies simply with a broad grin. “That’s the big question, isn’t it? The goatee?”

Russell’s victory at the last round in Austria, only the second of his career and Mercedes’ first since he took the flag at Brazil in 2022, was as welcome as it was unexpected. The series of upgrades since Monaco in May have put his car in position to challenge McLaren and Ferrari, for podium places behind Red Bull and potentially more.

After Austria the team principal, Toto Wolff, said he felt Mercedes were on track, noting they had “big momentum now in the team to go to a point where we are able, on real performance, to fight for the win”.

At the Red Bull Ring, however, pace was not decisive. Russell was in third behind Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and McLaren’s Lando Norris when the pair collided, allowing Russell in to win. It was a reminder of sticking to the task, a lesson not lost on him.

“My time will come,” he says. “I’ve got a good 17 to 20 years left in me. This is Max’s time. Max’s era. There’s no guarantee that he’s going to be fighting every single year in the future. When Sebastian [Vettel] was winning, nobody would have predicted that. When Lewis was winning, nobody would have predicted that. Who knows what’s going to come next? I’ve just got to make sure I’m ready.”

George Russell with the trophy after winning the Austrian Grand PrixView image in fullscreen

Russell began his F1 career at Williams in 2019, impressing over three seasons at the struggling team until he joined Mercedes. Optimism then that he would be immediately battling for wins with the team which had won eight consecutive constructors’ championships fell away as their interpretation of the new regulations proved off the mark.

They have been playing catchup until these most recent races. For Russell this was a tougher task than he surely had anticipated as he looks towards Mercedes coming good again and is set to become their senior driver when Hamilton joins Ferrari at the end of the season.

“I definitely take confidence in my performances and the results I’ve managed to achieve in these three years,” he says. “I knew it was always going to be a hard task going against Lewis but I always believed in myself. I know I’ve got it in me, that when the car’s there, I’ll be able to deliver those performances.”

He is, he admits, still learning, still improving and explains he was only 11 when he believed he could make it as a driver but several years later experience and reality made themselves felt.

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“I was just so naive to the world and confident and maybe arrogant, you can argue,” he says. “I was winning everything that I was racing in at the time. So I thought: ‘I’m just gonna win and be an F1 driver one day.’ I just thought it was as simple as that.

“It was only when I was 16 I recognised life’s not quite as simple as it was as a kid, or what you believed as a kid, and you couldn’t just rely on your speed and talent, you had to go above and beyond.”

As someone who first came to Silverstone as a child, this race means an awful lot to Russell. He made his single-seater debut there and took his first win and first F1 test at the old airfield.

His ambitions remain grand – he wants more victories and to fight for the title – but for now, if fate smiles on him again this weekend, it would mean more than anything.

“If I had the choice, Silverstone would always be No 1 of a race win, of course,” he says. “When you go to your home race you feel this extra energy from the crowd, you’re just sort of riding this wave.”

Source: theguardian.com