For somebody who straps himself right into a automotive and hurtles round a monitor for a dwelling, you’d think about George Russell is just about fearless relating to bodily pursuits.
However when confronted with open water, Russell has needed to cope with his personal anxieties.
“I used to be terrified of the water as little as two years in the past – being a child from the countryside within the UK, and by no means being uncovered to clear blue water such as you see within the Mediterranean,” he says.
But one look at his current social media posts alleviates any doubts Russell could not overcome this worry, with the 25-year-old now very a lot a water child.
“I am getting a brand new enjoyable love for the ocean and doing water sports activities, studying to surf, studying to freedive,” he says.
Time spent within the waves can also be giving Russell an escape from the depth of life as an F1 driver.
“It is a approach that I discover peace,” he says. “It is a approach I disconnect from my sport and mentally recharge.”
In an interview in Singapore earlier than this weekend’s evening race, the Mercedes driver mentioned his new contract, coping with Max Verstappen’s dominance and F1’s efforts to turn out to be extra sustainable.
Staying with Mercedes
Mercedes just lately introduced Russell and compatriot Lewis Hamilton had signed two-year contract extensions.
The retention of Russell was no nice shock. He joined the group’s younger driver programme in 2017, having fun with loads of success in junior racing classes earlier than touchdown a seat in F1 with Williams.
He then returned to Mercedes for the 2022 season, securing his first F1 victory in Sao Paulo last November.
Russell says signing a brand new contract was “a really simple choice from each side” and “nearly a formality”.
One other two seasons with Mercedes means one other two seasons of working with Hamilton, who Russell calls “the best driver of all time”.
“I joked with him as soon as final season that he nearly successfully saved my profession,” he says.
“Had he retired the 12 months earlier than I joined Mercedes, after which as a group we’re not performing, all of the fingers can be pointing on the driver. So truly having him there, along with his respect is big.”
Looking down Purple Bull
Whereas Russell had no challenge staying at Mercedes, he will definitely expect enhancements within the automotive they provide him subsequent 12 months.
The entire paddock has been off the tempo in comparison with Purple Bull, who’ve received each race to this point this season.
However Mercedes have solely been represented on the rostrum at 4 races in 2023, with Russell there simply as soon as after a third-place end in Barcelona. It is a far cry from current years, after they had been the dominant drive.
Russell says his group are “not the place we wish to be proper now” however believes they’re “on the upwards flip of the cycle” in the direction of the entrance of the grid.
When pressed if they’ll construct a machine able to successful races, he stays cautiously optimistic.
“I am extraordinarily assured each single particular person is working as laborious as they’ll to attain the quickest automotive potential for subsequent 12 months,” he mentioned.
“That is the one promise I may give as a result of racing is a relative sport.”
A future world champion?
Russell’s potential and relative youth has many predicting the person from King’s Lynn can be a future world champion. It is a label Russell is cautious of.
“I hate the time period saying ‘I am right here ready for my probability’,” he says.
He as an alternative compares his scenario to drivers resembling Charles Leclerc and Lando Norris, who’re clearly proficient drivers however lack the automotive to problem.
“It is the panorama of Components 1 in the intervening time,” he says. “All you are able to do as a person is carry out at your best, and be sure you’re able to struggle if you’ve received the automotive beneath you.”
Like everyone else, Russell has needed to watch Verstappen race off into the gap this season – however can he study something from his front-row view of a person on the very peak of efficiency?
“I feel it’s at all times vital to take a look at others for inspiration,” he says. “However to take your personal path. We’re all totally different people.”
F1’s sustainability push
This weekend’s race begins a frantic push to the season’s end line, with races in East Asia, the Center East, South America and the US to come back.
The geographical variety of the calendar is considerably at odds with F1’s current drive to be extra sustainable.
The aim is to hit net zero carbon by 2030, with a 100% sustainable gasoline deliberate for 2026. The Singapore Grand Prix is enjoying its half, aiming to halve vitality emissions by 2028.
However in a sport that revolves round quick vehicles and worldwide journey, is sustainability actually possible?
“In the end it is a unending matter,” says Russell. “There’s at all times going to be extra that may be performed.
“As a sport, we’re seeing methods to make use of fewer tyres throughout a race weekend, probably utilizing sustainable aviation gasoline with the cargo that is being freighted around the globe.
“However as I mentioned, there may be a lot we will do and have to proceed to do.”
And with a job that permits him to journey the world, Russell has lived and breathed the consequences of air pollution from rising emissions.
“Every time I flew again and landed in London Heathrow – strolling out of these doorways and feeling the freshness of the British air was one thing I by no means appreciated till I visited or I travelled to locations that had actually poor air,” he provides.