Fighting with a world champion has helped Russell

07-01-2021 17:56 | Updated: 07-01-2021 21:21
F1 News
Fighting with a world champion has helped Russell

George Russell has been at the back of the F1 grid for his career, except for the single race when he stepped into Hamilton's Mercedes. That, unfortunately, ended dramatically because of the chaos at the pit stops, but his time will come. After all, he has once again proved that he can race very well. Although he usually drives at the back, he still managed to enjoy and learn from the battles he had in the rest of the season.

Battles with Sebastian Vettel

In conversation with Motorsport Italy the Williams-driver looks back on last season and especially the battles with four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel have helped him. As Ferrari performed so badly in 2020, the red cars were mostly in midfield and occasionally at the back. As a result, Russell met the German several times, which led to wheel-to-wheel battles.

Russell: "I have improved as a driver, drastically, because we have been in wheel-to-wheel battles throughout the season with Alfa Romeo, Haas and often Vettel. I've been talking about it lately, and Sebastian, he's probably the driver I've fought with the most this season."

"When I think back to the Nurburgring, Mugello, Austria at the beginning of the year. Even from Abu Dhabi, there were a few fights. Portimao, perhaps? Imola, perhaps? We have been on the track together all season, which, if you had told me that in the middle of last year, I would have thought you were crazy."

A lot of experience

All these battles are, of course, important for a young and relatively inexperienced driver. In that sense, the 2020 season has benefited him much more than 2019. He continues: "So that experience of fighting wheel to wheel in a Formula 1 car has helped me a lot - because it's different. It's very different from junior formulas because the downforce is really sophisticated."

"If you lose downforce, the car transforms. And learning how to deal with that has been great for me." But of course, you don't get there with a lot of experience, the car has to allow it and Russell still sees room for improvement in that. "We have often sidelined ourselves and had to fight with faster cars, which of course makes it difficult because they are always on the defensive.

"I have only been on the attack once. And that was when I was in the Mercedes, but that only changes your confidence as a driver. So, I am realistic knowing that we are one of the slowest cars, it will always be difficult because you don't have the same grip as the other teams. But it's all about small details, working constantly to improve."

Russell is entering his third season this year and although Williams has certainly come closer, in 2020 it wasn't enough to really score points. Whether that will be different this year remains to be seen, as the cars are partly the same as last year.

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