2023 brought unexpected revelations for young British talent George Russell. Long hailed as a rising star, Russell’s much-anticipated partnership with seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes was seen as a potential changing of the guard – as appeared to be the case last year. However, it turned out to be a season of growth and self-discovery for the 25-year-old.
Jack Plooij, a commentator for Dutch broadcaster Ziggo Sport, candidly shared his thoughts, saying, “I really expected Russell to beat Hamilton this year. Lewis is better than I think.” The sentiment was echoed by many who believed that Hamilton had entered a phase where he could be consistently outperformed by his younger teammate.
Yet, as the season unfolded, Hamilton defied expectations, finishing third overall, five places ahead of Russell. In a recent interview with the Telegraph, Russell reflected on the challenges he faced in 2023. “I’ve never had a season where I’ve had so many missed opportunities,” he admitted.
“Last year was plain sailing. It felt like a pretty normal season. But this year it’s been one thing after another. I need to try to understand why that is,” Russell continued, emphasizing that it wasn’t the pressure or the presence of a legendary driver like Hamilton that affected him.
Russell pointed out that his impatience and the introduction of a new race engineer could have played a role in his performance. However, he highlighted an interesting statistic—his qualifying record against Hamilton stood at an even 11-11 for the season, and their pace was generally on par.
“And to be honest,” Russell said, “I’d prefer to be sat here without the results, but with the pace. Rather than saying ‘Oh, we lucked into a result here or there’ when actually I was a tenth or two off the pace.”