The second in our Your Corner series, sees 15-year-old Marshland High School pupil Adam Davies take a look at George Russell’s Formula 1 exploits
Like history-making Lewis Hamilton, George Russell enjoyed success in every level of his junior career.
However, it has been very different since King’s Lynn-born Russell, still only 22, made his Formula 1 bow in 2019 in the Williams Racing car. It’s arguably the worst car on the grid but Russell has overcome the performance of it and managed to run inside the top 10 during plenty of races. Unfortunately though, he has not finished inside the points.
He has been dragging his canoe of a car along, fighting for points, but the Williams has been in a bad state. It has a wash of understeer on every corner, it is slow down the straights and is very ‘draggy’.
But Russell keeps on fighting. He has every chance of breaking records, like Hamilton – who won his seventh F1 title on Sunday to match Michael Schumacher’s haul – but needs to be in the best car he can get.
Over the last couple of months there has been speculation over whether the Tydd St Giles-raised talent would get an F1 seat next year.
As Sergio Perez left Racing Point, there were rumours he may go to Williams, replacing Russell. This was a concerning time for Russell, as his talent hasn’t been recognised, being in a worse team than others. Had he been dropped, he wouldn’t have had many options. Russell could have gone to Racing Point, but they are to retain Lance Stroll and welcome Sebastian Vettel. Russell’s other option would have been to join a strong and consistent team such as Alfa Romeo. It would have meant he had the most experienced driver, Kimi Raikkonen, alongside him. So Russell was under some pressure to perform and, despite scoring no points, he’s done just that by finishing 11th twice – most recently at the Tuscan Grand Prix.
He’s been able to out-qualify and out race his team-mate Nicholas Latifi, just like he did Robert Kubica, more often than not.
Thankfully at the end of last month, Russell was finally confirmed as keeping his Williams seat for the 2021 season. This is because the new team owners understand he has a lot of faith for the team and, because Claire Williams has resigned as team principal, the new owners may not yet have the funds to hire a different driver.
Simon Roberts, acting team principal, said: “We’re very happy with them [the drivers], we look forward to working with them in a continued way.”
He also added that he was “sorry for the confusion” as he had refused to announce the driver line-up for next season.
Wet or dry, youngster is impressing
This year has been anything but normal for Formula 1.
The season started on July 5 and there have been many new circuits. This would not have happened if it was not for the coronavirus pandemic.
George Russell has performed exceptionally well on every track, except for a mistake in Imola. He’s even been able to fend off four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel during the thrilling Tuscan Grand Prix.
As the season draws to a close, the last new circuit to be explored by F1 was Turkey.
Sunday’s race was crazy with rain affecting all the drivers. The track being resurfaced and slippery meant Russell managed only 16th after starting from the pit lane.
There were no mistakes from the 22-year-old during the race, it was just that the car was not competitive enough, again, to get top results. Nonetheless it was a good performance in the first wet race of the season.
There are still three more chances for Russell to prove himself as he looks to get his first F1 points on the board.
Regulation changes a big boost
As this season draws to a close, and with the championship wrapped up, thoughts are already turning to next season.
In 2021 and 2022 there will be regulation changes, which will allow teams to alter the performance of the cars drastically. A new sliding scale rule for aerodynamic development will help the smaller teams to close the gap on the front of the grid. This should allow the action to be closer.
Williams, being one of the slowest teams on the grid, has the potential to become a race-winning car, like in 2015.
This could benefit George Russell because he then has the potential to shine by having a better car, allowing him to be noticed.
With his results being, hopefully, impressive this can make the other teams in the field more attracted to him and allow him to make his way up the grid into a better-performing car.
Lando Norris has had the best season in his career so far but that is because he has a decent car.
Russell appears to have the ability to do the same in the next few years. If he is already challenging near the points in the slowest car, imagine what he could do with a midfield runner.
This, for me, is why he is arguably the best driver on the grid as he’s performing so well – despite not scoring any points – in a car that really isn’t going to cause any other teams any problems.