George Russell is on cloud nine after capturing his maiden Formula 1 victory at the 2022 Sao Paulo Grand Prix. The incident-filled race will live long in the memory of the 24-year-old British star, who had been knocking on the door of a win all season. Now the Mercedes driver has his first Formula 1 victory under his belt and is looking and eager for more.
For Russell, this maiden outright win resulted from 17 years of hard work and dedication. He began go-karting at only seven years old before climbing through the ranks to Formula 1 in time for the 2019 season. Anyone offering tips on how to bet on F1 races often has Russell to finish in the top five spots but rarely to take the chequered flag. Indeed, Russell has finished in the top five in 18 of the season’s 21 races, including eight podium finishes. The future is bright for the talented youngster.
A delighted Russell spoke to the official Formula 1 media team shortly after the customary spraying of champagne in Brazil. He said finishing in first place left him speechless, and he thought teammate Lewis Hamilton could catch him.
“What an amazing feeling. Just a huge thank you to the whole team for making this possible. It’s been an emotional rollercoaster season, this race. It was a really tough race. I felt in control. Lewis was super-fast, and when I saw the Safety Car, I thought, ‘Oh Jesus, this is going to be a really difficult end.’ He put me under so much pressure, but I’m so happy to come away with the victory.”
“I’m speechless. On the in-lap, all of these memories sort of came flooding back. Starting off with my mum and dad in go-karting and going through all the support I’ve had from the rest of my family, my girlfriend, my trainer, and my manager. Then obviously, the likes of Gwen Lagrue, who gave me the opportunity to get on the programme with Mercedes and James Vowels and Toto Wolff – the list is endless. I can’t thank them enough; I’m super proud.”
Russell began his F1 career with Williams during the 2019 season, but the William FW42 car was, frankly, appalling. The Williams were the slowest cars in the field, and Russell was often left racing with teammate Robert Kubica. He finished in 20th place in the championship as the only driver not to score a single point.
The FW43 car for 2020 was equally bad as the FW42, and Russell was again not competitive. However, Russell stood in for Lewis Hamilton at the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix when Hamilton tested positive for COVID-19. He led for most of the race, but with 20 laps remaining, the Mercedes pit crew fitted Valtteri Bottas’ front tyres to his car, meaning he had to return to the pits. Making matters worse, Russell suffered a slow puncture ten laps from the end and pitted again. He finished ninth and earned his first World Championship points.
Russell finished on the podium for the first time at the 2021 Belgian Grand Prix. The Williams FW43B car still was not up to scratch, but the race ended after only three laps, two of which were from behind the Safety Car, due to torrential rain.
2022 saw Russell join Mercedes, showing his capabilities in a car far superior to the Williams he was accustomed to. Russell finished fourth on his Mercedes debut before taking third place in Australia, the third Grand Prix of the season. Additional third-place finishes in Spain, Azerbaijan, France, and Hungary, were followed by a runner-up finish in the Netherlands and another third in Italy.
Russell won the Sprint at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix, almost four seconds ahead of Carlos Sainz Jr. He qualified third on the grind for the main race before marching onto his first-ever victory, 1.529 seconds ahead of Hamilton.
The win takes Russell to 265 points for the season, placing him fourth in the World Drivers’ Championship. Earning a solitary point in Abu Dhabi would secure fourth place ahead of teammate Hamilton.