George Russell shifts focus to Lewis Hamilton after ‘complete disaster’

Mercedes driver George Russell has changed his goals at the team after a tougher than expected 2023 season.

George Russell has decided to shift his focus towards aiding Lewis Hamilton and the Mercedes team in their pursuit of securing second place in the constructors’ championship, relinquishing his personal ambitions for the current season. 

The 25-year-old driver, who outscored his teammate by 35 points in their debut season together, has faced a challenging sophomore campaign in 2023, with only one podium finish in 17 races, leaving him in eighth place overall, trailing Hamilton by 62 points.

Russell recently narrowed the gap with a fourth-place finish in Qatar, but Mercedes’ hopes for a double podium at that race were dashed when both drivers started behind Max Verstappen on the grid and collided at the first corner. 

This incident sent Hamilton spinning into the gravel and out of the race, while Russell sustained minor damage. 

Want to work in Formula 1? Browse the latest F1 job vacancies

Hamilton took responsibility for the crash and issued an apology to his teammate, an apology Mercedes confirmed was accepted.

However, Russell’s outlook on his second season with the team has been impacted, and with just five Grand Prix weekends left in 2023, he has abandoned his personal aspirations for the drivers’ championship. 

He has now set his sights on helping Mercedes maintain their position as the second-best team in the constructors’ championship.

Speaking to reporters, Russell acknowledged the challenges he has faced this season: “For me this year, the drivers’ championship has been a complete disaster. 

Article continues below

“I’ve got one goal [for the rest of 2023] and that is to finish P2 in the teams’ championship – and [the Qatar race] was a big opportunity for us [to consolidate the position].”

Despite the missed opportunity in Qatar, Russell remains optimistic and believes that Mercedes can still secure second place in the constructors’ championship. 

He noted the car’s performance in Qatar and mentioned upcoming developments for the car in the final races of the season.

“As Russell alluded to, the team’s result at the Losail International Circuit was an opportunity squandered. 

Closest rivals Ferrari, just 28 points behind the Silver Arrows, had one hand tied behind their backs on Sunday with Carlos Sainz out of the race before it even began with a fuel leak on his car.”

With Charles Leclerc as Ferrari’s sole representative starting behind both British drivers, the crash involving Hamilton levelled the playing field. 

READ: Max Verstappen dismisses Gerhard Berger’s claim

Russell ultimately finished just one place ahead of Leclerc, resulting in a modest two-point extension of Mercedes’ lead in the constructors’ championship.

Reflecting on the collision, trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin attributed it to “simply a mistake.” 

Shovlin also commended Russell for his strong recovery drive in Qatar, which helped limit the damage to Mercedes’ championship position.