George Russell reveals overwhelming Mercedes demand has ‘token a toll’

George Russell outscored Lewis Hamilton during his first year with Mercedes, coming fourth in his debut season.

George Russell’s first season was a very impressive one with Mercedes, only finishing outside of the top five on race day three times over the course of the season.

With the W13 rendered uncompetitive while the Silver Arrow’s focused on solving their major porpoising problem, Russell’s early podium finishes in Australia, Spain and Baku are perhaps more impressive than on first look.

Following a strong first season with his new team, it appears that Russell has adapted to life at Mercedes well, however the 24-year-old has suggested that getting to grips with the demands of such a big team away from the track took longer than expected.

“I wouldn’t say necessarily ‘pressures’ of the off-track stuff, but it’s the time consumption of the things off track,” he explained when asked about the pressure of racing for a team like Mercedes.

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“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 a toll on me.”

Russell has shockingly revealed that Mercedes expect their drivers to dedicate 60-plus days away from anything performance related such as simulator days or days in the factory, to complete marketing appearances for the team.

“That’s two months’ worth. 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,” he explained.

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The biggest example of Mercedes demands on their drivers this season would be toward the end of the season, where both Lewis Hamilton and George Russell flew to attend the Las Vegas launch party in their week off between the Mexican and Brazilian Grand Prix.

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Despite admitting to struggling with the demands of driving for such a high-profile team, Russell finished the season with Mercedes’ only win of the year, coming in Brazil, and has generally impressed with the Silver Arrows.

The mid-point of the season saw the Brit involved in a number of collisions with other drivers that ended their races, however it  thankfully seems that this was an unlucky patch for Russell rather than him developing a tendency to ruin other driver’s races.

Both Mercedes drivers will be hoping that their team can take advantage of the chaos going on around them and return to the top next year, with Ferrari undergoing a change in leadership while Red Bull battle with their cost cap breach penalty.