Russell: Norris F1 deal helped me seal Williams drive

George Russell believes Formula 2 rival Lando Norris securing a Formula 1 race seat with McLaren helped to put pressure on Williams to sign him for 2019.

Russell: Norris F1 deal helped me seal Williams drive

Norris was signed by McLaren shortly after September's Italian Grand Prix, but at that point ART Grand Prix driver Russell had surpassed his Carlin rival at the top of the F2 standings.

“Lando’s announcement so early helped me to push Williams for my drive,” explained Russell. 

“Because if I was ahead of him in the [F2] championship and McLaren believed he [Norris] was worthy of a Formula 1 seat, it showed there was some great signs for myself, and it probably added more pressure for Williams to say ‘we’ve got to go with George because he’s the guy who is winning F2’.”

Mercedes junior Russell secured his seat at the beginning of October, and has since been joined by Robert Kubica for the 2019 season.

He took seven wins in his title-winning F2 campaign, matching the all-time record held by Charles Leclerc and Stoffel Vandoorne. He also joined Leclerc, Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg and Nico Hulkenberg in taking the title in his rookie season.

However, it wasn’t all plain sailing for Russell as he suffered more issues than many of his title rivals with the new-for-2018 F2 car. 

In Bahrain he had a slow start due to the troublesome F2 clutch, while one round later he was driven off the road by Nyck de Vries in the Baku feature race while leading. 

An engine failure in practice at Monaco on his first visit there compromised performance, and a clutch issue from fourth on the grid at the Hungaroring and a throttle sensor problem at Paul Ricard also hindered his progress. 

But the Kings’ Lynn-born driver says he believed that the people responsible for his career opportunities could look past the early results.

“Whenever I had my talks with Mercedes and Toto [Wolff, Mercedes boss], they understood what was going on and understood the true potential,” added Russell. “They didn’t just look at the overall standings and the points we’d lost. 

“That was refreshing in my mind, that as long as they were happy, they were the guys that were going to make a difference in my career.

“I’ve learned to recognise the people you need to please. The people I needed to please at that point were ART and Mercedes, and now they are Williams and Mercedes. 

“It doesn’t matter what everyone else thinks, what the perception is. As long as they think I’m doing a good job, that’s all that matters to me.”

George Russell, ART Grand Prix

George Russell, ART Grand Prix

Photo by: FIA Formula 2

shares
comments
A rare insight into why Verstappen is so good

Previous article

A rare insight into why Verstappen is so good

Next article

Why longer wheelbase cars could be the F1 trend in 2019

Why longer wheelbase cars could be the F1 trend in 2019
Load comments
Can Red Bull really win anywhere now it’s toppled a Mercedes F1 stronghold? Prime

Can Red Bull really win anywhere now it’s toppled a Mercedes F1 stronghold?

OPINION: Red Bull team boss Christian Horner reckoned Max Verstappen winning the French Grand Prix – an event where Mercedes had previously been dominant – would signal “we can beat them anywhere”. Here’s how that claim stacks up looking at the rest of the 2021 season

The IndyCar feature that Paul Ricard desperately needs in F1 Prime

The IndyCar feature that Paul Ricard desperately needs in F1

The French Grand Prix offered a surprisingly interesting spectacle, despite the headache-inducing nature of the circuit. But IndyCar's Road America race offered far more in terms of action - and the increased jeopardy at the Elkhart Lake venue might be something Paul Ricard needs in future...

Formula 1
Jun 22, 2021
French Grand Prix driver ratings Prime

French Grand Prix driver ratings

The French GP was a weekend decided by tiny margins both at the front of the field, as Red Bull inflicted a comeback defeat on Mercedes, and in the battle for the minor points places. That's reflected in our driver ratings, where several drivers came close to a maximum score

Formula 1
Jun 21, 2021
How Red Bull took French GP "payback" on a day of Mercedes mistakes Prime

How Red Bull took French GP "payback" on a day of Mercedes mistakes

The French GP has been a stronghold for Mercedes since Paul Ricard's return to the calendar in 2018. But that all changed on Sunday, as a clever two-stop strategy guided Red Bull's Max Verstappen to make a race-winning pass on the penultimate lap - for once leaving Mercedes to experience the pain of late defeat it has so often inflicted on Red Bull

Formula 1
Jun 21, 2021
The Mercedes lap that puts F1 victory fight back on a knife-edge Prime

The Mercedes lap that puts F1 victory fight back on a knife-edge

Red Bull led the way after the first two practice sessions for the 2021 French Grand Prix, but only just ahead of Mercedes. There was all the usual practice skulduggery complicating the performance picture, but one aspect seen at the world champion squad gave it a ‘surprise’ lift, as it looks to leave its street-circuit struggles firmly in the past.

Formula 1
Jun 19, 2021
How Ferrari got its F1 recovery plan working Prime

How Ferrari got its F1 recovery plan working

After its worst campaign in 40 years, the famous Italian team had to bounce back in 2021 – and it appears to be delivering. Although it concedes the pole positions in Monaco and Baku paint a somewhat misleading picture of its competitiveness, the team is heading into the 2022 rules revamp on much stronger footing to go for wins again

Formula 1
Jun 18, 2021
The joy that exposes F1’s key weakness Prime

The joy that exposes F1’s key weakness

Long-awaited wins for ex-Formula 1 drivers Marcus Ericsson and Kevin Magnussen in IndyCar and IMSA last weekend gave F1 a reminder of what it is missing. But with the new rules aimed at levelling the playing field, there’s renewed optimism that more drivers can have a rewarding result when their day of days comes

Formula 1
Jun 17, 2021
The F1 figures Red Bull and Mercedes can't afford to see again Prime

The F1 figures Red Bull and Mercedes can't afford to see again

OPINION: An interloper squad got amongst the title contenders during Formula 1’s street-circuit mini-break, where Red Bull left with the points lead in both championships. But, as the campaign heads back to purpose-built venues once again, how the drivers of the two top teams compare in one crucial area will be a major factor in deciding which squad stays in or retakes the top spot

Formula 1
Jun 16, 2021