George Russell was “impressed at how quickly I started crying” after winning in Formula 1 for the first time at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix.
Victory in the Sprint set Russell up with a major chance for his first grand prix win and he duly delivered by holding off team-mate Lewis Hamilton in the closing stages. Russell had comfortably led the entire race but a late safety car added some tension and the Mercedes drivers were free to race to the end, but he kept Hamilton at bay and was tearful on team radio as he celebrated both his first win and the first for the team this season.
“Just so many emotions. I think I’ve dreamt of this moment, for sure, many, many times,” Russell said. “And you never really know how it’s going to pan out and I think the race was well managed, everything was under control.
“I knew how quick Lewis was and when that Safety Car came out, I thought ‘God this is going to be very, very tricky now.’ But I put together a really strong string of laps — very little mistakes — and you know the pressure Lewis put me under was immense. But I’m so proud of the whole team. The progress we’ve made since the start of the year is just unbelievable. And what a boost it’s going to give us going into next season.”
Russell admits the emotions came flooding out of him as soon as he’d crossed the line to secure his first victory.
“I was pretty impressed at how quickly I started crying, to be honest, once I crossed the line. It was literally by the time we were at Turn 2 I was… Tears were flooding. I just thought of my family to be honest – everybody’s back at home.
“I’ve got my mum at home with my girlfriend, I’ve got my sister with her husband, my brother with my father and his two children, so all of my closest family were a little bit spread out, but I know that they were all watching together and as soon as I got my phone straight after the race, called them all in a group FaceTime.
“It’s just been such an emotional roller coaster and journey for all of us,” he continued. “From go-karting, traveling up and down the country in the campervan with my parents, to the support my brother and sister gave me and the support my girlfriend’s given me throughout this whole season.
“It’s not a straightforward life in Formula 1. We’re all living our dreams but your emotions vary substantially based on performance and you’re coming home from a weekend either very happy and things are good, or coming home pretty disappointed. No, it’s difficult for everybody and I sort of feel that for all of us, but not just my family.
“Everybody who’s supported me throughout my journey who’s given me this opportunity: Mercedes, Gwen (Lagrue), who’s been a huge part of giving me this opportunity. For people who don’t know, Gwen is the manager of the Mercedes driver program and he’s the one who got me in with Mercedes in the beginning.
“And then so much support from Mercedes, with Williams, the people who have supported me throughout my journey in karting, Formula 4, Formula 3…the list is endless. All these thoughts just go rushing through your mind over the course of that 60s and, yeah, definitely a bit emotional, for sure.”