Lando Norris says Mercedes has changed George Russell

© Steve Etherington for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

Lando Norris says George Russell is not as fun as he was before he joined Mercedes, and believes he would be “even more popular” if he would show “the personality he had a few years ago”.

In a recent talk with the Independent, Lando Norris said his good friend George Russell has changed since he became a Mercedes driver in 2022.

“My manager, my trainer, my parents, have always tried to keep me as me, rather than try to shape me,” Norris said.

“I see other drivers get shaped more because of who they are with, the teams they are with, and I don’t think that is a good thing. It takes away their personality.

“Growing up with George for instance, was a lot of fun. He was a great person, but it is different at Mercedes – a different vibe and a different atmosphere. I just don’t see as fun a side of him.

“George is a great person, and I feel like the personality he had a few years ago, he would be even more popular.”

However, Norris says he understands George had to change his approach when he joined a top team like Mercedes.

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“I think it was impressive before, but the job he’s done against Lewis and so on, and just going to a bigger team, there’s always more pressure, more nerves… I think he’s lived up to that part very well.

“He’s been super consistent and everything. So it’s been impressive to see probably more that side of it, how he’s always there, pretty much apart from I guess, Silverstone, that was the worst weekend he’s had.

“I think it’s more people change just because of the pressure and nerves of being in F1 and being with different teams, and the environment that you’re in, I think that kind of affects people.

“Not for like a good reason or a bad reason. But I guess you feel a bit more free when you’re in say, a team that struggles and does well, you always feel a bit more like ‘I’m on top of things’ and so on. And you want to look like that kind of guy, in a way.

“And when you go to a bigger team, you don’t ever want to feel like anyone can see that you make any mistakes, and therefore you feel like you want to act a bit more straightforward, a bit more proper, and don’t want to joke around as much, things like that.

“So not someone changing, say purposely, but just because of the environment that you’re in, it can affect the way people act and are portrayed I guess on cameras and TV and things like that.”

Lando, however reveals he also consciously became more serious in his second year with McLaren in 2020.

“Exactly, the same thing. In a way a little bit different because I think that was more like my own choice.

“Like, I am the first guy I was in 2019, but I feel like I just got portrayed in too much of a bad way from acting like that. So it was more like my own choice.

“But also just coming into F1 and so on, I was probably even more like that in F2 and F3, but then suddenly all the cameras are on you and stuff, and you want to make sure you’re acting properly,” Norris concluded.

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