George Russell’s opportunity to race two different Formula 1 cars towards the end of the season taught him how he needs to be more adaptable as a driver.
Mercedes called on Russell to replace Lewis Hamilton at the Sakhir Grand Prix after the seven-time world champion tested positive for COVID-19, with Williams agreeing to release its driver for the weekend. Russell performed impressively but was back in the Williams for the final race in Abu Dhabi when Hamilton returned, and says the switch highlighted the need to tailor your driving style for each specific car.
“I think the thing I’ve learned most is you have to be adaptable,” Russell said. “My sort of driving style I did in the Williams actually hurt me slightly in the Mercedes and actually when I came back to the Williams and I tried to implement some of the things I did in that Bahrain race I couldn’t do it in the Williams.
“So the thing it reinforced to me is you have to be open-minded and adapt to what the car is giving you. And if one guy drives like that in a Mercedes it doesn’t mean you can drive like that in a Williams and vice versa.”
While Russell had 15 races in the 2020 Williams under his belt before getting a chance to drive for Mercedes, he says returning to his regular car was a bigger challenge because the W11 was easier to drive in many ways.
“Actually harder probably jumping back to the Williams because the Mercedes car is so good — it’s what every driver wants from a race car, the Mercedes gives you. You feel the driver is in control of the Mercedes whereas sometimes it is almost like our car is controlling the driver, we have to react to it, whereas in the Mercedes you are the one controlling it.
“I think that’s only natural when you have a great car underneath you, it is a true joy to drive, and maybe that’s why I probably got up to speed with it relatively quickly.”