George Russell reveals how Fernando Alonso podcast affected him

George Russell has struggled to match Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton this season, in contrast to 2022.

Mercedes driver George Russell has opened up about the source of inspiration behind his impressive mid-season resurgence in 2023, crediting a podcast by Fernando Alonso for sparking a positive change in his mentality. 

After outscoring his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton and securing the team’s only victory in his debut season in 2022, Russell had struggled this year, falling 62 points behind the seven-time World Champion.

Throughout the season, Russell had been haunted by missed opportunities that he believed had cost him “over 60 points” in total. 

His sole podium finish came in Spain, and he endured a frustrating spell that included crashing out from third place in Singapore. 

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However, the second half of the season saw a remarkable transformation, with Russell out-qualifying Hamilton in four of the last five rounds and securing a second-place spot in qualifying in Qatar, which he described as “exceptional.”

Reflecting on the changes that contributed to his turnaround, Russell explained during an interview on the Beyond the Grid podcast:

“I think a small mentality change from my side, how I work with my engineers, the things I’m focusing on with the set-up of the car, the things I’m not focusing on with the set-up of the car, and just probably enjoying life a bit more.” 

He went on to mention an enlightening podcast by Fernando Alonso, saying:

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“I listened to a podcast from Fernando, where he said that if he could change one thing in his career, he wishes he enjoyed the moment more often when he was younger. 

“I think that resonated with me because I’m living my dream here, but I’m so dedicated. 

“I feel like I’m a true professional. I look at every single detail.” 

Russell further elaborated on his newfound perspective, emphasising that it hadn’t affected his professionalism, stating, “It doesn’t mean that I’m any less professional now, but it’s just that I’m probably enjoying my life more, my surroundings, the people who I have at home, my living situation. I’m just in a much happier place. 

“I’m learning new things that I never would have dreamt of doing before, so all in all, I’m just in a good place.”

However, this transformation didn’t prevent Russell from experiencing a challenging moment on the track. 

During the Qatar Grand Prix, he collided with his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton at Turn 1 on the first lap, causing Hamilton to retire from the race. 

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Russell continued despite the incident, eventually finishing in fourth place, following an additional pit stop.

Russell believed that Mercedes had the pace to challenge Max Verstappen for victory in Qatar, citing the performance of McLaren’s Oscar Piastri, who finished just 4.8 seconds behind the Red Bull. 

Despite falling short of the podium, Russell’s performance allowed him to maintain eighth place in the Drivers’ Championship, with 132 points, just behind Lando Norris.