Once completely uninterested in virtual racing, George Russell admits he is now “definitely tempted” as its popularity grows.
The absence of any real-life motor racing due to the coronavirus pandemic means that Esports has now been thrust into the spotlight like never before.
Formula 1 has launched its own virtual racing series, with the opening event, a race around a digital Bahrain International Circuit, serving as the first of several events to replace the shelved real-life races.
The Race’s All-Star Esports Battle events and Team Redline’s “Real Racers Never Quit” series are among the other options for fans to sample virtual motor sport.
Stars from across the racing world, and outside of it have taken part in these events, and now they are starting to attract the attention of Russell.
Speaking on Sky Sports F1’s new online ‘Vodcast’, the Williams driver said: “I’ve never been into Esports stuff if I’m being honest, because there’s so much simulator stuff when I was at Mercedes as test and reserve driver.
“They were crazy long days. And the last thing I wanted to do was come home and jump on a simulator again.
“Now I am definitely tempted. I’ve just got a sim delivered end of last week, so I’ve just started practicing a little bit.
“I’m still pretty rubbish at the moment but definitely tempted and I might have a dabble here and there.”
Russell has moved out of his home in London and is living with his parents while the UK is on lockdown.
He has built a home gym with his trainer, and due to the absence of real-life racing, he says some virtual action will be an important part of his training.
“At the moment I’m just focused on training, actually getting into running – I’ve never been a big runner so thought this was a big opportunity to work on a bit of a 5k time,” he said.
“With the Esports side of things, I think it is about time I had a bit of a play.
“Normally we’re either driving every other week or I’m in the simulator at the factory.
“So I’ll definitely do a bit of that, more so for my training more than anything else.”