Russell says seeing Albon and Norris ahead of him was “difficult to digest”

© Williams Racing

George Russell says it was hard for him to see his F2 colleagues Alex Albon and Lando Norris ahead of him all the time, when they joined F1.

George Russell joined Formula 1 in 2019, after winning the F3 and F2 titles in 2017 and 2018 respectively.

However, the team he joined was Williams, and as soon as the season began it became obvious that their car was completely uncompetitive. Unfortunately this meant that George and his team-mate Robert Kubica were usually relegated to cruising the tracks dead last.

At the same time Russell’s friends, and junior categories colleagues, Alex Albon and Lando Norris, started their F1 careers in Red Bull and McLaren respectively.

Both teams were miles ahead of Williams, and so Russell was forced to see the people he had beaten in previous seasons, finish ahead of him regularly.

In a talk with The High Performance Podcast, Russell revealed this was “sort of difficult to digest”.

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“That was a really unique season for my first year in Formula 1 – joining Williams, a team that was on the brink of bankruptcy,” the Briton said.

“It was a team [that] every single race weekend was racing to survive. It wasn’t racing to perform, the team was racing to survive and 800 people’s jobs [were] at stake.

“There was no doubt, when I got to the first race in Australia, I’m here in Formula 1, almost one dream accomplished, and got on track and we’re four seconds off the pace.

“The car’s falling apart, and we’re being lapped two or three times. [You] kind of think to yourself, is this the dream? But I think I’ve always had quite a rational view to things.

“Seeing Alex in Red Bull scoring podiums and being the man to a degree, and Lando equally always in the points, that was sort of difficult to digest, because I’ve just come from Formula 2 where I beat them.”

When asked how he dealt with this, George explained:

“I thought that, even though they’re finishing in the points and they’re scoring podiums, I’m not here to score points or podiums, I’m here to win and I want to win.

“Even though they were finishing ahead of me, we’re all going through this journey together, learning. I was part of Mercedes and I felt like my time will come.

“So I think, from a difficult situation, you’ve got to try and look at the positives from it. I was driving at the back of a grid, kind of under the radar.

“I was making a few mistakes that season, but not many people noticed because the spotlight wasn’t on me. The spotlight was on the guys at the front [and], equally, the spotlight was on Lando and Alex.

“If ever they made a mistake, the whole world knew about it, so I saw this as an opportunity.

“I’m in Formula 1, going to 21 different countries, 21 different races, different circuits, this is my opportunity to learn and perhaps try things that, for example, Alex and Lando didn’t have the opportunity to, because the spotlight was on [them] every single weekend,” Russell concluded.

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