“I’ve improved as a race driver, drastically, because”- George Russell on Sebastian Vettel raced against him the most this year.
George Russell had an impactful season in Formula 1 in 2020, as his brief stint with Mercedes at Bahrain made others believe in his ability and opine that the Briton is ready for the seat.
While his share of fame came with Mercedes, he remained lowest in the grid throughout the rest of the season. Surprisingly, Ferrari had a poor year too and was seen in the lower midtable area across the season.
Adding onto it, Sebastian Vettel had his own problems with the car, that’s why Russell got to race with the German often and to speak about it, the Williams driver feels, he got to learn immensely from Vettel.
“I’ve improved as a race driver, drastically, because we were in wheel-to-wheel battles all season with Alfa Romeo, Haas, and often with Vettel,” Russell told Autosport in an interview as he reflected on last season.
“I was talking about it recently, and Sebastian, he is probably the driver who I battled with the most this season. When I think back to the Nurburgring, to Mugello, to Austria at the start of the year.”
“Even Abu Dhabi [there were] a few laps battling. Portimao, maybe? Imola, maybe? We’ve just been together on track the whole season, which, if you told me that the middle of last year, I’d have thought you were absolutely bonkers.”
“So that experience, wheel-to-wheel racing in a Formula 1 car, has helped me so much – because it is different. It’s so different from the junior formulas, purely because the downforce is so sophisticated.
“When you lose downforce, the car transforms. And learning how to cope with that and deal with that has been great for me. Obviously, it gave me that opportunity when I jumped in the Mercedes to really be on it when I was coming back through the field.”
Russell says his 2020 experiences were better and he used to find himself higher up that the car’s actual pace. When asked about his aspirations ahead of 2021.
He replied: “We often found ourselves out of position and battling with faster cars, which naturally makes it tricky because I’m always on the defensive.”
“I’ve only had it once that I was on the attacking front. And that’s when I was in the Mercedes. That transforms your confidence as a race driver.”
“So, I’m equally realistic knowing that [because] we are one of the two slowest cars, it’s always going to be difficult racing because you don’t have the same grip as the other teams. But it’s small details, just trying to work on [improving] continuously.”