George Russell says one of his weaknesses in 2022 has been the way he has handled a number of the demands on him as a Mercedes driver.
The 24-year-old was promoted to Mercedes this season after three years at Williams and impressed alongside Lewis Hamilton, taking his first win at the penultimate race of the season in Brazil. However, in a wide-ranging interview with RACER, Russell said one of the aspects that he has struggled with this year has been the increased time spent carrying out duties away from racing as part of a bigger team.
“It’s the time consumption of the things of- track,” Russell said. “For every one day of marketing, that’s one day less in the gym, or training or resting and recovering to be in a better place for the next race. That’s definitely taken its toll on me. I need to work out how I’m going to best deal with all of this because for sure, at times this year, I haven’t dealt with it that well.
“When I look at the amount of days I’ve been away, this year, external to all the racing, all the simulator, all the days at the factory is it’s in the 60s, the number of days. That’s two months’ worth. And that’s away from the track. And these are flights, hotel nights, on my own.
“It’s just part of being a Mercedes driver, but that’s definitely a shock to the system. And when you get 22 races in or 21 races in and it is compounded with poor performance, you feel quite low. But then to come back and have a bit of a reset and have the best weekend of the year by far (in Brazil), that was another reason why it was so hugely satisfying.”
Despite the difficulties, Russell says he’s aware of his responsibilities as a driver given the importance of partners in supporting teams, and that he will always be looking to improve his fitness level whatever his schedule.
“I knew it was going to be tough in that regard,” he said. “When I look at the calendar, that’s a big part of it. At the end of the day I’m here, I’m a racing driver, and that’s what I want to do. For sure, there’s probably a better balance to be struck, but at the end of the day, we can’t go racing without our sponsors, and they’re a big reason as to why the team has so much success.
“So you just need to find that right balance and you learn with experience that you might not want to go (somewhere) before at this certain race because this race has been more fatiguing than somewhere else. And having events, making sure they’re as logistically as convenient as possible, so they don’t drain you as much because you know, that race (in Brazil), those last 15 laps, the pressure, the intensity of the race, it was mentally and physically fatiguing.
“You’re panting – I’d love to know my heart rate was, but I’m sure it was well over 180 for that last 15, 20 minutes, just non-stop, it’s like you’re sprinting. So there’s times like that you sort of wish you did a bit more in the gym and you were a bit fitter. But it doesn’t matter how fit you are, it’s always going to be tough.”