Russell: Esports pressure kept me sharp

Date published: June 28 2020

George Russell

George Russell said that the pressure he faced competing in virtual racing during the F1 break has kept him “sharp”.

The Briton ended Formula 1’s Virtual Series with four consecutive victories, but now he switches his attention back to the real-life racing.

Just how easily the skills can be transferred between virtual and real life racing is a hot topic for debate, but what Russell did say is that the pressure of it kept his racing mind sharp, and he expects that to benefit him this season.

Speaking on an F1 Vodcast, as quoted by Motorsport.com, he said: “I first started out as a bit of fun with my mates, then I soon learned they are pretty damn fast and pretty competitive. I was, obviously at the back of the grid in real F1, I don’t want to come here and be uncompetitive.

“So I put a bit of effort in, put a bit of work in, and just having that competitiveness was great. It gave me that opportunity to stay sharp. Even though it’s virtual, when you get to the real race, there’s still a lot of things that are very similar.

“You’ve still got to go out in qualifying, you’ve got three laps to do the job, and if you don’t do the job then you’re going to be at the back of the grid, and you’ve still got that pressure.

“You can all do a quick lap time in practice, but when it comes to quali you’ve got to do the job and that pressure’s there, it’s a different story.

“And also a race start, cars around you waiting for the lights to go off, when you’re sat on the grid and you’ve got those five red lights coming on, and you’re quite anxious and ready to let go of the clutch.

“That’s the same in the virtual world. Little things like that definitely didn’t hurt at all.”

The 2020 season gets underway next weekend with the Austrian Grand Prix, the first of two rounds to be held at the Red Bull Ring.

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