George Russell admits crash means he’s not ‘best pals’ with Lewis Hamilton

George Russell is intent on having lengthy career at Mercedes despite the recent challenges the team has faced in their fight for championship glory.

George Russell has declared his intention to remain in the sport for the long haul, dispelling any thoughts of early retirement. 

Russell’s perspective stands in contrast to that of Max Verstappen, who has hinted at the possibility of exploring new career ventures rather than pursuing a lengthy career as one of the elder statesmen on the grid.

The recently concluded Qatar Grand Prix was a moment of celebration for the Verstappen camp, as the Red Bull driver mathematically sealed his third consecutive Drivers’ Championship. 

Verstappen’s victory in the Grand Prix marked his 14th win of a dominant season.

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Although Verstappen is under contract with Red Bull for another five years, he has openly admitted that his plans beyond that point remain uncertain. 

In 2022, he stated, “I don’t know after that. 

“I’ve still got time. 

“I don’t want to make drastic decisions now, but I want to do other stuff.”

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Considering that Verstappen made his Formula 1 debut as a fresh-faced teenager, he will have been part of the sport for well over a decade when his Red Bull contract expires, at which point he will be 31 years old.

In contrast to Verstappen’s uncertainty, George Russell envisions himself remaining in Formula 1 for another 15 years. 

In an interview on the Beyond the Grid podcast, Russell expressed his optimism about the sport’s future, saying, “The sport is in such a great place. 

“There is a really exciting future. [F1 CEO] Stefano [Domenicali] and the team are doing an immense job, and I can only see it going from strength to strength in the years to come. 

“There will be many years to come. 2024, we’re going for it. 

“But I reckon I’ve got a good 15 years left in me.”

Should George Russell’s aspiration materialise, he would continue racing well into his forties, joining the likes of Fernando Alonso and, if he completes his Mercedes contract, Lewis Hamilton. 

While the 25-year-old driver has made his desire to win a world title no secret, Mercedes still has a substantial gap to close with Red Bull before their driver pairing can truly challenge for the championship.

Earlier in the season, the battle for points led to a heated exchange between Russell and Verstappen, with the Dutchman referring to his F1 rival as a ‘d***head’ after a collision in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix Sprint. 

Russell addressed the confrontation, emphasising that no apology was necessary from the reigning three-time world champion.

“It’s racing,” Russell remarked. “It’s a physical sport, even though it’s sometimes not perceived that way. 

“The cognitive stress you’re under, your own personal pressures… 

“We all want to do the best job possible, and we all respect that. 

“None of us are going out there to crash on purpose or take somebody else off. 

“There is never an apology needed. 

“It doesn’t matter what has been said. 

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“In those moments, within an hour after the race, it doesn’t matter what’s said. 

“It’s water under the bridge, and you move on. 

“You might not be best pals for the next couple of races, but we’re all mature enough to recognise it’s racing.”