After what started as a moment of relief for George Russell with Williams confirming that they wanted to keep him on for 2021, last weekend turned into a bit of a torrid time for him. He was having a great race, sitting in tenth position and on track to get his first ever point in Formula 1 when everything turned upside down for the young Brit. After Verstappen crashed out of second place with a right rear tyre puncture, the safety car was deployed. In a desperate attempt to get some heat into his tyres, George span off and crashed into a barrier, bringing a swift end to his race.
Russell was quick to apologise to his team on the radio and was visibly upset as he got out his car. He sat by himself to the side of the track in a Mika Hakkinen-esque nature. And I really do feel for him, he has been impressive throughout his young career in Formula 1. He has never been outqualified by his teammates and has consistently got a below average car into the second round of qualifying. But for one reason or another things never quite seem to go his way when it comes to race day.
Mugello is another instance where George was on the verge of claiming his first point, only for his day to be ruined by a second red flag and another restart. Throughout the majority of the race Russell was fighting for a points position with four time world champion Sebastian Vettel, but after Lance Stroll’s crash and a second red flag of the race, Russell found himself at the back of the pack following the restart. With only twelve cars left in the hunt, you really felt this was Russell’s chance but unfortunately he only managed an agonisingly close eleventh place.
Whilst his almost two full seasons in Formula 1 are by far not the most decorated by any standards, his previous results in GP3 and Formula 2 show the talent that he really is. He won the Formula 2 championship against both Alex Albon and Lando Norris, two drivers who were also brought into Formula 1 as rookies in the 2019 season. Both Norris and Albon have gone on to stand on the podium, and as it is quite clear from his season in Formula 2, it is not due to a lack of talent that Russell isn’t up there with them.
Since his unfortunate crash at Imola, Russell has received some incredible support from other drivers. Romain Grosjean, who has had a similar incident behind a safety car, commented on a post by Russell saying “Man, I know the feeling. Will take some time to forget it, but what you do is mega. Keep pushing.” On the same post Hamilton also showed support for the young driver saying “George, you were giving it your all. It’s ok to make mistakes and it’s ok to feel the pain. I’ve made more than I can remember. You’re great bud. Keep your head up and keep pushing, on to the next one!” Clearly other drivers on the grid believe in him as well and his potential has not gone unnoticed.
There is no doubt that Russell is one to watch for the future, and with all that talent and all the support he has I’m sure it will only be a matter of time before he is driving for a competitive team and scoring points on a consistent basis. But until then he is somewhat stuck at Williams, and may unfortunately get that unwanted record of most races without a point. I really hope, for his own confidence, that his unlucky streak will come to an end and he will push on to have a very successful career in Formula 1. Finally, it is easy to forget that, technically, Russell is a Mercedes driver. All it takes is for either Valterri Bottas or Lewis Hamilton to leave Formula 1 for him to be in a really strong position for a seat at Mercedes. In a far better car, the results will soon come.
Featured image from Williams Racing Facebook Page