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'It Was a Dream Come True' - George Recalls F1 Debut Five Years On

"It was a dream come true."

March 17, 2019 - for George, it feels like yesterday.

He may now be in his sixth season in Formula One, but we're taking him back to his very first race weekend in Melbourne.

"It was a really special moment," George says. "I had my whole family there on the grid with me, and I was about to race against so many people who I had looked up to."

With the pre-race ceremony over, there was a job to be done, and a new challenge to adapt to.

"I was enjoying the fact I had achieved a lifelong dream, of course, but there was a realisation that I was now at the back of the grid, not the front."

Consecutive titles in GP3 and Formula 2 may have seemed like distant memories as George lined up P19 for the Grand Prix, but that didn't prevent an important sense of perspective under the visor.

"I knew I could learn at my own pace. I could make mistakes without it being in the spotlight. I could just find the positives from every situation and maximise the year, he adds.

And when the lights did go out, nothing felt new. Something that surprised even him.

"I only realised afterwards, but it felt like any other race. When I was in that car and the helmet was on it felt exactly the same as it did when I was in Go-Karts, F4, F3, or Formula 2. The goal hadn't changed. To drive as fast as possible.

"That was the biggest takeaway for me."

Fast forward five years. George Russell is a Formula One podium scorer, a polesitter, and a race winner. A career to be proud of, no doubt. But with the advantage of hindsight, what would the George of 2024 have said to his 21-year-old self on that Albert Park grid?

"Cherish every moment," he says. "Enjoy the journey. Everyone in Formula One is a competitive animal and when things aren't going your way it can knock you down.

"You need to remind yourself that we are extremely fortunate to do what we do. We're doing what we love and what a life we are all living.

"If things are going wrong, it's not the time to just put your feet up, but you need to remind yourself that there are worse things in the world to be doing."

Things can go wrong in Formula One. And when they do, that's when a driver relies on those around them to see them through. A consistent and healthy support network can make all the difference in crucial moments, a fact George has really come to appreciate.

"Surrounding yourself with the right people is so important. People you trust and have your best interests at heart," says George.

He has done just that. Manager Harry has been in place since 2013, and this season will be the eighth with trainer Aleix in tow.

"Gwen [Lagrue] and Toto [Wolff] have played a huge part in that journey too, supporting me the whole way. My girlfriend and my family have been there as well.

"These people understand you. They understand the sport and can support at the right time in the right way. It's an emotional rollercoaster, through the highs and the lows, whether you are winning or losing.

Surrounding yourself with the right people is so important. People you trust and have your best interests at heart.


George's career rollercoaster has seen a lot of peaks. He reached the highest of highs in Brazil in 2022, leading every lap to claim his first Grand Prix victory, bringing home an unforgettable Mercedes 1-2.

But it's not the moment that stands out the most for George. The real moment of confirmation had come a year earlier before George joined the team permanently at the beginning of 2022.

"I always look back at qualifying for Spa in 2021. I had signed the contract to join Mercedes the week before, so I knew I had the full support of everyone, including Toto and the board.

"Qualifying on the front row in a car that had finished last for the previous three seasons gave me more adrenaline than I had ever experienced in my life."

That was then, this is now. Five years have passed, but George Russell has barely scratched the surface.

This interview wasn't one for a job, but it did make us think: where does George Russell want to be in five years' time?

"I just want to have maximised my potential and know that I haven't left any stone unturned. That I have given it everything and I have no regrets about the way I have trained, the way I have worked for my team and the commitment I have shown.

"All I can do is give it my absolute everything."

We know he will. But we also know that you can't always control your own destiny in Formula One.

"I don't know how many race victories we're going to achieve in that time. If it means we win five World Championships then great. If it means we've won 10 races and only should have won eight then I'll be happy with that too.

"It's all relative.

"I'm 26 and think I've got at least 15 years left in me. I'm going to give it everything to win with Mercedes. That's the goal."

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