George Russell attended the 2022 Austrian Grand Prix Thursday Drivers’ Press Conference. Here is the full transcript!
Q: George, coming to you now. An emotional Sunday for you at Silverstone. In terms of being unable to take the restart, can you just tell us about the conversations with Toto and the team afterwards? Did they understand why you jumped out?
George RUSSELL: Yeah, absolutely. I think there was no… I think it was just a natural reaction. And for me to do that, obviously, the race was red-flagged and seeing such a horrific incident… I thought at the time as well my car was probably game over. And as it turned out, it wasn’t. So I think that just added to the emotions, the frustrations, because we definitely could have got going again and probably could have scored a strong result.
Q: Well, talk to us about the pace of the W13? How excited are you? Do you think this is a car that you can now win in?
GR: I don’t think we want to get too carried away, because I think Silverstone is a very unique circuit in the sense of the speeds you’re going through all of those corners, and we clearly have a lot of downforce and good potential at a circuit like Silverstone. We’re going to another circuit here that’s, I’d say, more medium-speed as opposed to high-speed. We need to keep on evaluating. I think Silverstone was a really good step in the right direction and we’ve taken some really good understanding from there. But we’re sort of going to go again this weekend and see how we get on.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Peter Vamosi – Racingline.hu) Question to Lance, Alex and George. Carlos Sainz won last weekend. What do you think about it as part of the new generation and when do you plan to win your first Grand Prix ever in Formula 1?
GR: Yeah, not a lot more to add really. I think you go for it every weekend. Obviously happy to see him get his first victory, of course, but we’re all here to compete and we’re all here to win. And we all want to win. He’s been in Formula 1 for a long time. He’s put a lot of hard work into it. And he’s definitely had opportunities in the past, so he’s deservedly got a race wind under his belt now.
Q: (Luke Smith – Autosport) George, they say the first person in Formula 1 you have to beat is your team-mate. Against Lewis this year you have fared pretty well, I think there was a seven-race run where you finished ahead of him every single race, scored more points. Do you take a lot from that? What kind of boost do you get from having performed so well against him this year? And for Valtteri, what have you made of George’s performance against Lewis this year given you know how hard that position is?
GR: Yeah, I think as drivers you want to finish ahead of everybody, of course, and that includes your team-mate. I knew the challenge I faced ahead of the season, going up against Lewis and I’ve seen first-hand just how great he is. I think in any sport you often get into a bit of a groove and a bit of a rhythm and things seemingly go for you or seemingly go against you and I think I obviously had quite a good run. Those first nine races I’d say we’re pretty good, maybe eight races. The last two races have been a bit more tricky for me, of course. But glad to be back to just try and get back on that run this weekend in Austria, but yeah, I think we’ve seen in the last couple of races just how fast Lewis is.
Valtteri BOTTAS: Yeah, I think George has done great, as expected, and especially as I know myself how tricky it is to beat Lewis, so yeah, he’s been doing a good job.
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Q: (Christian Nimmervoll – Motorsport-total.com) George, talking about the accident last weekend, when you stepped out of that car, could you talk us through what went through your mind in that moment? What did you see? And at what point did you realise that no one was injured, particularly Zhou.
GR: For me, it was sort of horrifying to see him trapped in there, literally not being able to get out of the car. You know, he was obviously fine and I could see he was moving but it was sort of… I think we all, as drivers, we all know how sort of, I wouldn’t say claustrophobic, but you’re sort of in there pretty tight, you’ve got the helmet on, you’ve got the Halo there, the headrest, and then when you’ve got a tyre wall effectively on top of your head blocking your exit, hanging upside down it’s just a horrible situation to be in. So I think from every sort of disaster there’s an opportunity to improve as a sport or whatever it may be, and clearly things could have been maybe positioned slightly differently to have given him that exit. There was a gap between the barriers and the catch fence and he was obviously trapped in there. That needs to be resolved and, yeah, it wasn’t nice for sure.
Q: (Jenna Fryer – AP) The question is for George. You jumped out of your car without hesitation. You said earlier that it was just natural instinct. But not many drivers do jump out of their car in very many series, Callum Ilott tweeted that when he had flipped his go kart you immediately jumped out of your car and came to his aid as well. So it sounds like you’ve always been that way. Where did that instinct come from in you?
GR: First I hope you’re not driving! I actually rolled my kart in a race in 2008, I believe it was. To be honest, this hasn’t gone through my thought process whatsoever during any of these incidents, but I’m just actually thinking about it now. I rolled in 2008 and I was trapped under the car and I was actually burning my arm because the exhaust was stuck on top of me. And this other driver stopped to lift the kart off me and helped me out there. The one with Callum, it was actually just on a practice day that he rolled, which was quite impressive in itself. But obviously with one at the weekend, it was just a horrifying accident and I saw it was a red flag. And I thought my car was broken, so for me it was just sort of a natural reaction. I don’t know, to be honest. I hope that helps answer your question.
Q: (Luke Smith – Autosport) It’s now in the Code of Conduct, saying so long as you’ve got a significant portion of the car alongside it’s your corner. At Silverstone, I think we saw a few moves with that was pushed to the extreme a little bit. Is it clear for you guys what the racing rules are this year? And do you think it can be a bit blurry, and allow for maybe a few dive bombs or something like that just to get ahead?
GR: I think it’s good, pretty clear. We obviously want hard racing and fair racing. I think when you go back to the karting days, if you’re on the inside and you got the corner, it’s you’re right to do what you wish, from the mid to the exit, if you’re fully down the inside. And it’s always going to be difficult to truly judge in a racing scenario, but I think we’ve got a good set of sort of boundaries to go out now.
Q: (Claire Cottingham – Racefans.net) Just a question on the safety, really. I know it was an isolated issue that we saw at the weekend in Silverstone but are there things to be learned and what can be learned from it, moving forward, considering it was quite a few of you involved in the accident? Thank you.
GR: I think it’s an element of motor sport that you’re always going to have big accidents at some point during every calendar year. And I think, as I said before, every incident offers an opportunity to learn from and obviously, I think, the roll hoop, got smashed off, and where the car rolled into, and also just for the fans as well, seeing the fan footage was pretty, pretty scary. So, it’s a constant evolution. And I think as a sport, we’ve come so far, but it’s never going to stop. And if we fast forward 30 years we’re still going to be probably talking about the same things. And that’s just racing and what happens when you go at speed.