George Russell attended the 2022 Canadian Grand Prix Friday Drivers’ Press Conference. Here is the full transcript!
Q: George, do you agree with Daniel and everything he said about this place?
George Russell: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I’ve only raced here once. But it was a good experience when I was here. And there’s so much character, very unique, got the street circuit vibes and the kerbs and the track evolving so much. And I remember the fans just being so enthusiastic. This is the first race I actually had goosebumps when I did the drivers’ parade, because of the fans were just so upbeat and pumped up for the race. So that was pretty special feeling back then.
Q: Now podium view last weekend in Baku; team dinner earlier this week in Montreal. How is the vibe at Mercedes at the moment?
GR: When you get to the race weekend, everybody’s so focused and you’re ingrained in what you’re doing; trying to find more performance and it’s no secret that, as a team, we’re going through a bit of a tough time and we want better performance, but you need evenings like we had on Wednesday night where you get away from it all, and you just do something normal. We were at the restaurant, probably 100 people there, and it was a nice evening.
Q: You said after the race in Baku, that it was a very tough race for you physically. Are you expecting more of the same here?
GR: Yeah, we’ll have to wait and see. Obviously, it was a bumpy ride for us and for many, many teams in Baku, and obviously there’s been some changes brought forward from the FIA. So, it’s sort of pleasing to see that they’ve been on the front foot there. But we need to see if it actually makes any difference at all, and then go from there.
Q: So, do you welcome the Technical Directive from the FIA?
GR: I mean, I don’t… I’m not a technical expert. So, I don’t really know if that’s going to improve things or not. But I think we, definitely as drivers, it’s good to see them on the front foot and actioning something straightaway.
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QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Andrew Benson – BBC Sport) How disappointed Are you that the action that’s been taken on bouncing won’t have an immediate effect on the way the cars interact with your bodies? And do you think there’s a fundamental problem with these new technical regulations, and they need to be rethought?
George, you’ve already touched on this. So, let’s continue with you first of all.
GR: Yeah, as I said, firstly, what’s been brought forward this weekend, I think it’s probably more of a sticking plaster than the solution. And we need to wait and see, I think, for even the teams suffering the least, it’s still an incredibly aggressive and bumpy ride. And you know, the FIA have access to all of the vertical acceleration loads we’re going through, and it’s far beyond what you’d expect is safe to deal with – so I mean, bigger conversations are definitely needed moving forward and where we go from here.
Q: (Mathias Brunner – Speedweek) After the Technical Directive of the FIA do you expect a change in the pecking order in the field?
GR: No, I don’t think it’s going to be make a big difference to be honest. I mean, yeah, I’m not too sure.
Q: (Alex Kalinauckas – Autosport) Question to George, please about your work off-track this year. It’s your second year as a director of the GPDA. How you finding that? It’s been quite the year for driver feedback on lots of things. The missile attack in Jeddah; the porpoisiong; even the FIA and the jewellery ban, and things like that. How are you finding that side of things?
GR: There’s quite a lot going on, to be honest, but no, all good. I think, Alex Wurz and Anastasia [Fowle] who’s another director, has been a huge part of this. And they do the majority of the work behind the scenes. It’s opened my eyes a lot to their input. I think we’ve all got a lot, all of us drivers, have a lot to be grateful for, for those two, especially. But yeah, enjoying it. There’s always conversations ongoing and just trying to improve the sport. Also, in conversations with Formula 1, trying to improve circuit safety, design, whatever it may be. think it’s just a good… something a little bit different and I enjoyed it.
Q: (Adam Cooper – motorsport.com) Question for George. Just wanted your thoughts on Silverstone. You’re going there with a car that you can at least aim for a top six. Are you hoping that it will be more towards the Barcelona-side of things on bouncing rather than Baku?
GR:I think we’re definitely hoping to have more performance in Silverstone – but definitely, really excited to go there: home crowd, to have a chance of fighting for a podium. And I think Silverstone is always driver’s favourite. Not just for the circuit itself but all of the fans there, they’re so passionate for the sport. Hopefully the weather holds off – but yeah, all in all looking forward to it.
Q: (Ian Parkes – New York Times) This past week, I conducted an interview with a world leader in his field with regard to spines. He’s the past president of the British Association of Spine Surgeons, and is the spine lead for the World Federation of Neurosurgeons. So, as you can tell, he’s got quite the credentials. His comments to me where, if this continues, you are at serious risk, or either rupturing or severely damaging your spinal disc. And obviously, there is also as well, the consideration of minor brain haemorrhages, given the way the head bounces inside the helmet, when you hear those kinds of comments, does that make you think twice about what you’re doing? And how imperative it is that F1 and the FIA get on top of this as soon as possible.
GR: I mean, from everything you’ve said, there’s not really much more to add. And there’s obviously a lot of mixed agendas here from different teams and drivers. And we’ve heard it from Carlos at times, and Checo and Max earlier in the season, how bad it’s been. But now that their performance seems to be strong, they obviously don’t want changes because it can only hinder them. So it is obviously a bit of a shame to see performance prioritised over safety. But you know, there’s no doubt in Baku, I could see my pit board, but I couldn’t read my pit board because I was bouncing around so much. I think I saw a video of Lance on one of the laps, struggling to change the buttons on the steering wheel, because you visibly just saw how much the car was shaken around, how stiff it was, and everything. So, you know, we’re all competitive animals here in this sport, and we all want to win. But yeah, we can’t put our bodies at risk before any of that.
Q: (Jon Noble – motorsport.com) Question to George. The inference from the FIA TD was that they were looking at setting up this maximum bouncing metric, and any car bouncing and bottoming too much, would have to change the setup to stop the bouncing. Any concerns for Mercedes? Have your engineers told you about whether there could be competitive consequences for Mercedes, you’ve got to lift your car up to stop the bouncing that takes us out of the ideal set-up window?
GR: Yeah, I think, as we said before, from our side, from a performance aspect, having any changes is a total unknown. At the end of the day, the FIA are the rule makers, and they could bring in any regulation change they want. And nobody sat here knows if that’s going to improve their performance or have a negative effect on their performance. So, we really have to see: there’s so many different aspects and elements of these cars, that by raising the car, doesn’t necessarily reduce it or remove. You’re going in between porpoising and bottoming: it’s two sort-of different issues at play here. And obviously, the stiffness of the cars are really bad, but I mean, time will tell. It’s… I hope it’s easier to drive for everybody and it doesn’t have a knock-on effect for performance for anyone.