George Russell attended the 2023 Mexican Grand Prix Thursday Drivers’ Press Conference. Here is the full transcript!
Q: George, thank you for waiting. Coming to you now. Well, praise indeed from Fernando Alonso about your padel skills.
George RUSSELL: Yeah, it was OK. Team-mates on the padel court, 100% record against our competitors. So it’s always nice to do that as a sport, I’ve been getting into it a little bit as this year has progressed, and especially this time of the season, you spend a lot of time away, so it’s nice to have a little hobby on the side.
Q: Now let’s talk ride heights. There’s been a lot of chatter about that since last weekend, do you expect Mercedes to take more of a conservative approach this weekend?
GR: I think it’s a very different layout here. Obviously, with the one session in Austin, we did all of the standard checks after FP1 and the plank looked absolutely fine. So there was no reason after the practice session to make any changes, but obviously we got that very wrong. I expect the nature of this circuit to be naturally more conservative and with the three practice sessions, I don’t foresee any issues there.
Q: And what about the upgrades to the car over a race distance? What were you feeling?
GR: Yeah, definitely the upgrades were performing really well and I think that was clear with the performance. We had some limitations on my side. I had not enough fuel and was having to manage the fuel for half of the race. That really put me on the back foot but the last stint, we just went for it and the pace was probably the strongest out there which definitely bodes well for the end of the season.
Q: And what about track limits here? You got a five second penalty last time out for your pass on Oscar. I’m sure it’s all good between you now but do you expect track limits to be an issue?
GR: It shouldn’t be a problem. I can’t think of any corners that are going to be a limitation. I think Turn 2 there was a bit of a problem last year with some drivers cutting it. But it’s circuits like this that you want to be racing on where there isn’t an opportunity to be pushed off but still take the advantage. So yeah, I think Austin, Austria, I can’t think of any others now but these types of circuits lend itself to that.
Q: You were very competitive last year; started on the front row finished fourth. What can we expect from Mercedes?
GR: Yeah, the car was performing really well last year on paper. I’d say this circuit suits us better than the likes of Austin and Qatar and Japan, on which we were still pretty competitive too so I wouldn’t say we have high hopes here but I think it should suit a slightly better. Bit of an unknown going to the C5 compound this year compared to the C4 last year but we’re feeling optimistic going into these two races.
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QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Adam Cooper – Motorsport.com) The local promoter here is working with F1 to cut down on the number of people in the paddock this weekend after what happened last year. How difficult is it to find that balance between giving people access and you guys being allowed to move around safely and be able to do your jobs?
GR: Yeah, I think for me, the more the merrier is great but at the end of the day, we’re all here to do a job. And last year, we were struggling just to get from our engineers’ office to the garage without people jumping on us and sticking cameras right in our face. It was a bit of a strange environment. So yeah, I’m happy for the paddock to be packed as long as we’ve all got a sensible way through to get to where we’ve got to be.
Q: (Alex Kalinauckas – Autosport) George, you mentioned having to save fuel in the last race. I just wondered the specific challenges around here in terms of cooling the engine, cooling the brakes, how does that work from a driver’s point of view? What are you asked to do by the team? I know you won’t go into specifics for Mercedes but just generally how can you help the team?
GR: It’s a very difficult scenario to find yourself in because as racing drivers you want to drive as fast as possible, every single lap and that’s why often qualifying is quite straightforward because you don’t need to overthink it. You’re just pedal to the metal and you go for it whereas, now you’re going into turn one, if you’ve got a bit of traffic, you probably can’t hit the brakes as hard as you’d like to because the brakes will go through the roof. You can’t probably follow cars for a number of laps in a row because of the engine overheating, so having to lift off the throttle maybe 100 metres before every single braking zone makes it feel quite unnatural to drive. Because when you grew up as a kid, eight years old driving a go-kart, these are techniques that you’d never use and the same, to be honest, in Formula 3, Formula 2, you’d never find yourself implementing these techniques to cool the engine down, to cool the tyres down, to cool the brakes down because those race cars aren’t probably pushed to the limit as a Formula 1 car is so it’s definitely a bit strange, but it’s what you have to do to find the best compromise.