George Russell shares awkward moment when meeting Brad Pitt

Oliver Harden
George Russell in the press conference. Monza September 2022.

Mercedes driver George Russell sits in on the press conference. Monza September 2022.

Mercedes driver George Russell has spoken of his awkward first encounter with movie star Brad Pitt in the first episode of Formula 1’s brand new ‘Never Have I Ever’ YouTube series.

Pitt is an increasingly familiar face in F1 circles due to his friendship with Russell’s team-mate, seven-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton, and his involvement in a new film based on the sport.

The star attended the 2022 United States Grand Prix in Texas as a guest of Mercedes, with Russell choosing to play it cool in Pitt’s company.

Asked if he has ever been starstruck by a celebrity, Russell said: “Starstruck maybe is pushing it a little bit, but the first time I ever saw Brad Pitt I wanted to act quite cool so I didn’t want to take a photo with him as everyone else was.

“So I pretended to be on the phone and sort of took the photo on the side of my phone.

“I’ve still got it on my phone now and I wanted to show him in Austin because we had a chat but it slipped my mind so next time.”

Russell was clearly less impressed by Pitt’s presence than Williams driver Logan Sargeant, who described his own meeting with the 59-year-old in Austin as “pretty surreal”.

Sargeant’s team-mate Alex Albon, meanwhile, admitted he was left starstruck by Hamilton as a child when the then-McLaren driver attended a junior karting event.

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Pitt is working in conjunction with Hamilton on his new F1 film, with the seven-time World Champion hopeful of making “the best racing movie that’s ever existed” with the aim of pulling on the “heartstrings of all those fans”.

With filming set to take place on real-life grand prix weekends like Netflix’s hit docuseries Drive to Survive, however, F1 chief executive Stefano Domenicali recently warned of the potential perils of the process.

“When we started the collaboration with Netflix, the [F1] community said what’s going on? This is not our place to be,” Domenicali said in a meeting with F1 investors, according to Motorsport.com.

“And now we understand the power of it. And then we added the very strong presence with social media, making sure that all our drivers and teams are very active in promoting the sport.

“And that’s another tool with the movie. Actually, we’re going to start the shooting in Silverstone very soon, and you will see it will be the first movie when basically, they will be within the racing event.

“It will be quite invasive in terms of production, it’s something that we need to control in a way, but it will be another way of showing that F1 never stops.”

Greg Maffei, the chief executive of F1 owners Liberty Media, voiced his support for the Pitt project, insisting the sport cannot rely on Drive to Survive to be “our only promotion vehicle forever”.