George Russell expects his own form to improve in 2024 after a winter away from Formula 1, following a disappointing second season at Mercedes.
Promoted for 2022 after three years at Williams, Russell duly beat teammate Lewis Hamilton in the drivers’ championship, scoring seven podiums on top of a maiden victory in Brazil. However, despite Mercedes improving from third in the constructors’ standings to second this year, Russell ended the season with just two podiums to his name. Even so, the Briton doesn’t feel he has any particular areas he needs to focus on over the off-season.
“No I think just a reset [will fix it],” Russell told select media including RACER. “I think I entered the summer break and I was lacking a bit of performance, and the reset allowed me to regain that performance. And the results didn’t quite come.
“But I think it probably does all stem from Melbourne, and just missing that potential race win or podium. You feel you’re on the back foot and slightly behind in the standings, even though there’s a long way to go. You’re trying to catch up, and you’re constantly on catch-up. Whereas if you start on the front foot, you’re already in a good groove.
“You can take away so many learnings from this, but ultimately, if you’ve got a faster car, things are easier. The incident [in Las Vegas], if we’d been faster than Max [Verstappen], he wouldn’t have overtaken me and we wouldn’t have collided. There’s one easy way to solve some of these problems.”
Russell sees benefits from a mental health point of view to being able to switch off from F1 during the winter, although he points out a driver’s break is rarely as long as the race calendar makes it appear.
“I think it’s very important. I don’t know if it’s how I’ve been brought up, but I’m able to get over things pretty quickly,” he said. “It stays with me very tough for 24 hours, but after that second night’s sleep, for me it’s almost history. The night after Saturday night in Vegas, it was tough and I woke up and I was feeling pretty s**t about the race. But then the following day, that’s behind me now and I can’t change that.
“I’ve already got plans to see my friends, see my family, go to my girlfriend’s house, see her family and do a few activities, try and learn some new things. When I line all of this up in the diary in between going to the factory, the sim days, I think we’ve got eight more days of marketing before the season closes, it’ll be the new season before I even know it. I’m excited for this little break.”