F1

Russell opens up on ‘pretty ruthless’ by-product of his F1 stardom

George Russell says he's learning in Mercedes

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George Russell has opened up on how he copes with the challenges he faces in the intense world of F1. The Mercedes driver entered the sport at the tender age of 20 and his progress has been heavily followed right through his career.

That only increased once he joined the Silver Arrows, from Williams, to team up with seven-world champion Lewis Hamilton.

Competing in the social media age with opinions on his performance posted at almost every turn, some of which can be rather brutal, Russell has shared how he deals with the “ruthless” nature of social media in the public eye. “[This job] absolutely challenges your mental health so much,” he told The High Performance Podcast.

“You’ve got to be so resilient to the negativity in this world, whether it’s the public perception, whether it’s social media, whether it’s the pressures of the team or even the pressures of yourself. But I think the biggest one, probably, for me, is that public perception and social media side, which is a tough one, and I think that’s also relatable to people who aren’t in the spotlight, because social media is a pretty ruthless platform.”

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With the added pressures of the online world, protecting one’s mental health has been highlighted and encouraged more than ever before. Russell entered his first season for Mercedes under huge pressure but he dealt with it remarkably well as he finished fourth in the drivers standings – 35 points ahead of Hamilton.

When asked how he prioritises his mental health and deals with social media, Russell said: “Just don’t read comments. It’s a pretty straightforward, simple one.” The 24-year-old also seeks professional support when needed. “I have a psychologist who I talk to,” Russell continued.

“It’s not routinely but I always pick up the phone whenever I feel like I need it, and I always leave that conversation feeling better about myself. There’s sort of a weight lifted off my shoulders. I think – a number of people have said this before – it’s the same way as if you want to get fitter; you go to the gym and you speak to a personal trainer. If there’s anything weighing on your mind, you need to talk to a professional about it and seek that help.”

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After what was a subpar 2022 for Mercedes, Russell sees nothing that points to Mercedes not being able to make the step it needs to fight for the F1 world championship in 2023. “I think when you look at the development we have brought this year, and the rate at which we’ve closed the gap, there’s nothing telling us we can’t achieve this,” the Brit said.

“We’ve been pretty clear now for about two months which targets we have to hit in terms of development. And I am pretty confident if we do achieve that, we will have a car that we can compete with Red Bull.”

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