George Russell has found a unique source of inspiration that has catalyzed his mid-season resurgence in 2023, and it comes from none other than the legendary Fernando Alonso.
Russell, who enjoyed a stellar debut season with Mercedes in 2022, outscoring his illustrious teammate Lewis Hamilton and securing the team’s only victory, has faced a more challenging year in 2023. He currently trails Hamilton by 62 points, with only one podium finish in Spain to his name. The frustration of missed opportunities throughout the season, amounting to what Russell estimates as “over 60 points,” has left him eager for a change.
Despite a disappointing exit from the Singapore Grand Prix while running in third place, George Russell has experienced a notable resurgence in the latter part of the season, notably out-qualifying Hamilton in four of the last five rounds. His impressive second-place qualifying performance in Qatar served as a testament to his revitalized form, describing it as “exceptional.”
But what was the catalyst behind this remarkable turnaround? Russell recently shared his insights on the Beyond the Grid podcast, highlighting the changes he has made to his mindset and approach. His words are particularly striking and offer a glimpse into his transformation:
“I think a small mentality change from my side, how I work with my engineers, the things I’m focusing on with the set-up of the car, the things I’m not focusing on with the set-up of the car, and just probably enjoying life a bit more.”
However, one piece of advice stood out among the rest and had a profound impact on George Russell’s outlook. It came from none other than Fernando Alonso, a two-time World Champion and a revered figure in the world of Formula 1. Russell revealed:
“I listened to a podcast from Fernando, where he said that if he could change one thing in his career, he wishes he enjoyed the moment more often when he was younger. I think that resonated with me because I’m living my dream here, but I’m so dedicated. I feel like I’m a true professional. I look at every single detail. I give it my everything, and sometimes you forget to enjoy it and to enjoy the moment with the people around you, enjoy the places you’re going to, smile, not just constantly be this 120% serious guy focusing on every single detail.”
It’s a reflection that many can relate to – the pursuit of excellence can sometimes overshadow the simple joys of life. Russell’s realization that he could still maintain his professionalism while embracing the happiness and enjoyment around him is a powerful message for all athletes.
He emphasized that this newfound perspective doesn’t diminish his dedication to racing; rather, it enhances it. He shared:
“It doesn’t mean that I’m any less professional now, but it’s just that I’m probably enjoying my life more, my surroundings, the people who I have at home, my living situation. I’m just in a much happier place. I’m learning new things that I never would have dreamt of doing before, so all in all I’m just in a good place.”
Despite his positive outlook, George Russell faced adversity in Qatar when he collided with his teammate, Lewis Hamilton, at Turn 1 on the first lap. While Hamilton’s race ended prematurely, Russell fought on, ultimately finishing in fourth place after an additional pit stop. He had believed that Mercedes had the pace to challenge Max Verstappen for victory, referencing how McLaren’s Oscar Piastri finished just 4.8 seconds behind the Red Bull.