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

How much does it cost to race in F1? Entry costs revealed

How much does it cost to race in F1? Entry costs revealed
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1 , FIA F2
Drivers Lando Norris , George Russell
Teams Williams
Author Jack Benyon
How long can Verstappen and Hamilton keep it clean? Prime

How long can Verstappen and Hamilton keep it clean?

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen have been evenly matched so far in the 2021 Formula 1 title race. Neither has been afraid to get aggressive against each other on track, teeing up an enthralling contest as the year unwinds. But how long will their battle remain clean? Jonathan Noble ponders that exact point

How Brabham’s one-hit wonder was boxed into a corner Prime

How Brabham’s one-hit wonder was boxed into a corner

The Brabham BT46B raced once, won once, then vanished – or did it? STUART CODLING reveals the story of the car which was never actually banned…

Formula 1
May 11, 2021
The changes Barcelona needs to provide a modern-day F1 spectacle Prime

The changes Barcelona needs to provide a modern-day F1 spectacle

Formula 1’s visits to Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya over recent years have been met with familiar criticisms despite tweaks here and there to the track to improve racing. With the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix largely going the same way, proper solutions need to be followed to achieve F1’s wider targets

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
Spanish Grand Prix Driver Ratings Prime

Spanish Grand Prix Driver Ratings

Often described as Formula 1's laboratory, the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona gave the clearest demonstration yet of the pecking order in 2021. And it's the key discrepancies from that order which illuminate who is excelling, and who needs to hit the reset button.

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
How Red Bull's deja vu set Hamilton on the winning path in Spain Prime

How Red Bull's deja vu set Hamilton on the winning path in Spain

An aggressive first corner move from Max Verstappen appeared to have set the Red Bull driver on course for victory in the Spanish Grand Prix. But canny strategy from Mercedes - combined with the absence of Red Bull's number two from the lead group - allowed Lewis Hamilton to pull off a demoralising reversal

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
The Barcelona practice times that prove Red Bull has hidden pace Prime

The Barcelona practice times that prove Red Bull has hidden pace

Lewis Hamilton led the way in Friday practice for the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix, but there was one major encouraging sign for Red Bull. However, making good on that gain will require Max Verstappen to avoid repeating a mistake that left him well down the FP2 order...

Formula 1
May 7, 2021
Why McLaren doesn’t doubt Ricciardo can escape his ‘dark’ place Prime

Why McLaren doesn’t doubt Ricciardo can escape his ‘dark’ place

Three points finishes from as many starts represents a decent opening innings on paper, but Daniel Ricciardo has endured a tough start to his McLaren career - only magnified his teammate's excellent form. Yet both he and the team have good reason to expect a turnaround soon.

Formula 1
May 6, 2021
What needs to “change” for Red Bull is ending Verstappen’s errors Prime

What needs to “change” for Red Bull is ending Verstappen’s errors

OPINION: Going up against the dominant force of Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton was always going to demand the best from Red Bull and Max Verstappen. But after making a couple more errors during the Portuguese Grand Prix, the Dutch driver showed there's a small gap he still needs to close in the 2021 Formula 1 title fight.

Formula 1
May 5, 2021