• ‘I Was Very Proud’ – George Reflects On 2022

It’s been a whirlwind 12 months for George Russell. After confirmation that he would partner Lewis Hamilton as one of the Team’s two race drivers, the past year has seen the 24-year-old experience all the highs and lows of racing at the front of the grid with the Formula One elite.

From early season challenges with the W13 to a sensational pole position in Hungary, or crashing out in front of his home crowd at Silverstone to his maiden Grand Prix success in Brazil, George impressively demonstrated his ability to remain calm, focused and determined throughout 2022.

We sat down with him at the start of the off season to reflect on the year just gone, and look ahead to an enticing 2023 season.  

It’s been a whirlwind 12 months for George Russell. After confirmation that he would partner Lewis Hamilton as one of the Team’s two race drivers, the past year has seen the 24-year-old experience all the highs and lows of racing at the front of the grid with the Formula One elite.

From early season challenges with the W13 to a sensational pole position in Hungary, or crashing out in front of his home crowd at Silverstone to his maiden Grand Prix success in Brazil, George impressively demonstrated his ability to remain calm, focused and determined throughout 2022.

How did you find your first year with the team as a racing driver?

George Russell: “This first year with Mercedes has been so great in so many ways. Dealing with a huge group of people who are incredibly talented in what they do has really pushed me to try and be better at what I do. That goes for within the driver’s seat and also the journey we have been on as a team.

“With the struggles at the start of the year, the car being off the pace and then coming through towards the end of the season, it has been really exciting to see that progress especially heading into 2023.”

What was your on-track highlight of 2022?

GR: “My on-track highlight without a doubt was Brazil. Obviously, it was a very special moment for me winning my first Grand Prix. What was even more special was seeing how the whole team reacted to that victory and how much it meant to everybody in Brackley and Brixworth. That was a really special moment for me.” 

Do you have any off-track highlights? Anything that comes to mind that you enjoyed the most or felt the most proud of?

GR: “My off-track highlight of the year was going for a short trip away to Scotland with my whole family after Monaco. Just going away from this fast lifestyle we have and all of the travel, just being in the countryside, going on long walks, just some quality time with everybody was really, really nice.”

The first nine races of the season were pretty consistent with top-5 results, what were your thoughts at that point in the season? A bit frustrated that we weren’t further up or happy that you were extracting the most?

GR: “I was satisfied as a team we were getting the most out of our car but a little bit frustrated that we weren’t making as much progress as we would have liked to and still struggling to get a true handle on the issues we faced and how we could overcome them.” 

Talk us through those final few laps in Brazil. What's going through your mind at that point?

GR: “Having Lewis in my mirrors – knowing he was only 1.3 second behind me - made it all an incredibly high-pressure situation. I had my engineer Riki giving me those gaps lap after lap, just knowing that I couldn’t make a single mistake as that would have given him an opportunity to pounce.

“The moment I crossed that line it was a huge relief. Knowing that we accomplished that victory as a team, but also for myself on a personal level knowing that I had handled that situation and handled that pressure was something I was very proud of.”

Have you had a chance to sit down and reflect on the weekend as a whole?

GR: “I was very emotional because it was one of the few races that I didn’t have anyone from my family or my girlfriend there. Calling them afterwards was really a special moment. Just the journey that we have been on together and throughout the past couple of years in Formula One but especially with my parents from when I was younger.

“Looking back on that race since it's sunk in, just knowing what an achievement it was for everybody who is part of this team and knowing that all this hard work has been rewarded with the first place trophy, which seemed just out of reach for so much of this season.” 

How much of a lift did the fans give you through the season?

GR: “Having so much support from the fans is such a special feeling for us drivers. Seeing them cheering you on, whether it is at the race track or the support through the city sends a tingle down your spine.

“They are ultimately the ones who make the sport what it is, without the fans the sport would be nothing. It's a really great feeling to have that effect on the hundred of thousands of people who come to support F1, Mercedes and us.”

How would you describe the working relationship with Lewis? What impressed you the most in helping the team move forward?

GR: “The relationship has been harmonious. What impressed me the most with Lewis is seeing how he works with the team, how he gets the most out of the people around him, how he continues to keep morale high when moments are tough and ultimately what I already knew is how damn fast he is and how much of a challenge it is being teammates with a guy like him.” 

What makes you most excited for 2023?

GR: “Knowing the potential that we have within this team makes me excited for 2023. It is no secret how fantastic this operation is in Brackley and Brixworth and what the whole team is capable of.

“Obviously after a setback such as 2022 it's really exciting knowing that we have the possibility to come back through and fight again in 2023.”