Racing driver George Russell has made it clear that he’s no longer interested in playing it safe and collecting points, but wants to push his limits and compete for the big victories. This shift in mentality came into play this year and has been the driving force behind his bold choices on the racetrack.
In one such instance, at the Singapore Grand Prix, both Russell and his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton chose to pit for new tyres. The tactical move was made under a late safety car, aiming to give them an edge in attacking race leader Carlos Sainz. As it transpired, Russell was stuck behind the third-place Lando Norris before he crashed on the final lap, leaving Hamilton to secure the third position.
The Mercedes driver reflected on the incident, stating, “It’s not the first time I’ve had a difficult situation like that. I’m very thankful for having some difficult situations to bounce back from in the past because I think it helps me deal with these situations better.” Russell suggested that such experiences are common in a racing career and one tends to recover within a day or so, always finding the positive angle.
Russell acknowledges that the recent mistakes he has made were a result of him pushing hard. He explains, “I think there’s definitely a reason for all of them… pushing to the limit, and maybe on both occasions pushing over the limit, trying to extract more than what’s possible.”
He compared his current approach with how he raced in his successful days in junior formulae, karts, F4, GP3, F2. He used to be focused on maintaining consistent results, to stand firm in the long run. However, this season he feels he’s “rolling the dice” a lot more.
Highlighting their gambling strategy, Russell mentioned, “You saw it [in Singapore], Zandvoort we obviously got it wrong, but it was another reason I’m definitely pushing myself above and beyond. You’re going up against the best drivers in the world, and you’re testing yourself.”
Despite his mishaps, Mercedes remains supportive. Andrew Shovlin, the trackside engineering director praised Russell for an incredible drive in Singapore. He said, “The only reason we were in that position to fight for a win was because of how incredibly you’d driven the whole weekend, the qualifying performance you did, the pace you showed in the race.”
Russell wrapped up, saying, “I take the positives, really pleased with the overall performance. I’m not going to let a mistake of two centimetres cloud my whole weekend, and I’d prefer to have a weekend like that rather than being off the pace and coming into a fortunate result.” It appears Russell’s new attitude toward racing is going all out for the win, rather than clinging to consistency.