George Russell recently revealed that while all the drivers on the grid share plenty of respect and a generally positive vibe, there is always the underlying competitiveness that comes on track. He said that while on-track incidents are the primary cause of any bad blood between drivers, there is mutual respect shared throughout the grid.
Speaking about the relationship between 20 drivers on the Beyond The Grid podcast, he said:
“There’s definitely a good vibe. I think there’s a lot of sort of illusions that we’re all best mates and all of that. We’re obviously mates, no doubt, and we always talk with each other whenever we see each other. Obviously, when the helmet goes on, we’re fierce competitors. We’ve had no reason, for the time being, not to be friendly with one another. We are rivals on track.”
George Russell, however, also mentioned what he felt could cause a rift between the drivers, saying:
“But the things that cause these greater rivalries are, generally speaking, on-track incidents. And for whatever reason, none of us have had any disagreements or on-track incidents over the years. I know Charles and Max [Verstappen] maybe had a few in karting when they were battling.”
He emphasized that the 20 drivers on the F1 grid are the only people who truly understand what it is like to beat the odds and make it to the pinnacle of motorsport, which consequently builds respect amongst the drivers. The Mercedes driver said:
“There’s only 20 of us in Formula 1. I think we all have a sort of mutual respect for one another, because only we understand what the others are going through. And because we’ve sort of come through the ranks together over so many years, it feels like you’re kind of like schoolmates, as such.”
Speaking about the difference between the racing drivers he has grown up competing with and the trends and patterns that dictate these drivers' styles, George Russell added:
“I wouldn’t say it affects how you race them, but there’s definitely trends, I would say, from all these drivers, and how they go about their race weekends has been quite a consistent theme throughout their careers. Which is also quite intriguing in itself to see, so I think we all know each other pretty well.”
Former F1 champion particularly impressed by George Russell
1997 F1 world champion Jacques Villeneuve said that George Russell "exceeded" his expectations with his performance at the 2022 F1 Hungarian GP qualifying, where the young Mercedes driver beat both Ferraris to claim his maiden pole position.
Writing for the Dutch publication Formule1.NL, the Canadian stated:
“[George] Russell exceeded my expectations. I knew he was fast but he is above Lewis Hamilton and has given Mercedes the first pole of the year. But you can see Hamilton responding now as well and I think Mercedes could just end up second among the constructors.”
George Russell currently stands fourth in the drivers' standings with 158 points to his name.