Revealed: George Russell’s strict ‘no-alcohol’ contract clause broken by F1 rivals

Oliver Harden
George Russell drinks champagne following his victory at the 2022 Brazilian GP as Lando Norris laughs in a small circle

George Russell has told Lando Norris about a unique clause in his Williams contract

George Russell has revealed that his Williams contract contained a strict clause banning him from drinking on F1 race weekends – a golden rule he says is routinely broken by some of his rivals.

Russell was promoted to an F1 seat with Williams in 2019 after beating fellow British hopeful Lando Norris to the prestigious F2 (formerly GP2) title.

Despite often having the slowest car on the grid, Russell excelled over the course of three seasons with Williams, producing a number of eye-catching qualifying performances.

George Russell’s strict no-drinking clause revealed by Drive to Survive

He also ended the team’s four-year wait for a podium finish by finishing second at the 2021 Belgian Grand Prix – where the result of qualifying became the final classification after the race failed to get underway due to heavy rain – before being promoted to Mercedes as Lewis Hamilton’s new team-mate in 2022.

Russell claimed Mercedes’ only victory of the ground effect era to date at the 2022 Brazilian GP and is set to begin his third full season with the eight-time Constructors’ Champions at next Saturday’s season-opening Bahrain GP.

A clip in the new series of Drive to Survive, Netflix’s highly acclaimed F1 docuseries, has exposed the strict demands placed on drivers by their employers with Russell revealing his Williams contract prevented him from drinking on a grand prix weekend. recommends

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Russell is seen in conversation with Norris during a flight on a private jet, where he details the clause – before going on to tease that some drivers freely consume alcohol during a race weekend.

“I’m not going to say names, but there’s definitely some people who drink,” Russell says. “I’ve seen it.”

Russell’s revelation is the latest in a series of unusual contract clauses to be unearthed by F1 drivers, with reigning World Champion Max Verstappen revealing last month that his Red Bull contract forbids him from “dangerous sports” like skiing.

Put to him that other elite athletes are contractually prevented from skiing due to injury fears, Verstappen told “Me too. No dangerous sports.

“I haven’t skied for five years because of the risk of breaking or twisting something with all its consequences.

“And of course also in the knowledge that there are still years to come in which I have a great chance to become Champion again and win races.

“When you think about that, you automatically do take a little less risk.”

The same clause is likely to have prevented Verstappen from appearing at Red Bull’s Formula Nurburgring event last year, where four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel drove his title-winning 2011 car on the famous Nordschleife circuit.

Verstappen explained Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko had feared that he would chase the lap record at the Nordschleife, last visited by F1 in 1976 when Niki Lauda suffered a life-threatening accident.

Verstappen said: “I wanted to do it, but I was not allowed by Helmut. He knew that I would try and go to the limits.

“I would have loved to do it. I didn’t want to start unnecessary issues. I heard this thing was coming up and Helmut was sitting at the table when it came up and he said: ‘No, no, no, you’re not doing that!’”

Red Bull’s caution with Verstappen may stem from the team’s experience with Vettel’s former team-mate Mark Webber, who suffered a broken leg and shoulder after being struck by a car while riding a bicycle during a charity endurance event in 2008.

Webber raced with a 38-centimetre titanium rod and screws in his right leg between 2009 and 2012 – claiming all nine of his F1 career wins during that timespan – before having it removed ahead of his final season in 2013.

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