Why George Russell isn’t worried about Ferrari and Aston Martin 2024 head start

Thomas Maher
Mercedes' George Russell on track at the British Grand Prix. Silverstone, July 2023.

Mercedes' George Russell on track at the British Grand Prix. Silverstone, July 2023.

Mercedes’ George Russell says he isn’t worried by the possibility of the likes of Ferrari and Aston Martin already switching focus to 2024.

With the 2023 F1 season rapidly approaching the summer break, the teams will all start thinking about the point at which to switch focus entirely away from 2023 development in order to concentrate on next year’s offering.

Depending on their level of competitiveness, some teams, like Red Bull, will have had the opportunity to already begin work on next year’s machines, meaning a potentially huge advantage once again as their rivals continue to concentrate on their 2023 fight.

George Russell points to stable regulations and ‘evolution’

Given that the 2024 regulations are essentially unchanged from ’23’s, which in themselves were only a tweak of the initial regulations introduced for the return of ground effect in 2022, George Russell says he isn’t concerned that Mercedes could find themselves on the back foot as they continue to develop their ’23 car.

Asked whether there’s any cause for worry as the likes of Red Bull, Ferrari, and Aston Martin can switch focus to 2024 and potentially steal a march on Mercedes as the Brackley-based squad continues to work on unlocking the potential of the W14’s new concept, Russell said the switchover point is not as big a deal as it had been two years ago.

“No, not really, because I think with the stable regulations between this year and next year, the cars kind of roll into next season anyway,” he told media, including PlanetF1.com, ahead of the British Grand Prix.

“Obviously, in the season of 2021 when you’ve got this new big change, there were concerns in regards to that. This year, we will finish the season with a car that has been an evolution into the following year.”

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With Mercedes’ form somewhat sporadic, occasionally the quickest team behind Red Bull and occasionally falling shy of the likes of Ferrari and Aston Martin – and McLaren, at Silverstone – Russell was asked how he’s been working on trying to find that consistency.

“I think it’s important sometimes not to overthink things, go back to basics, and work on the processes with the team,” he said.

“What I need as a driver to maximise my performance, what I’m looking for with the car.

“Just not overthink things sometimes. I know that if I tick all those boxes, I can beat anybody on this grid and I think it’s important that you do tick those boxes – we often fall into a trap of wanting to do more, and work on finer details, work even harder. And sometimes you overcomplicate things and it’s counterproductive, so it’s striking that right balance because I’m always striving for more, pursuing more but, sometimes, you can’t overwork, and it’s gonna hinder your performance.”

George Russell: There are a few drivers who would be deserving Champions

With Lando Norris joining in the mix at the front during the British Grand Prix weekend, marking McLaren’s first truly competitive weekend of the year after a tough start to the season, Russell was asked about his relationship with his fellow British rising star.

“Yeah, our relationship has always been good,” he said.

“Maybe a little bit closer this year than we’ve been in a couple of years – we’ve been playing paddle tennis a lot recently together and being on the same team – playing with a few different people, which has been good fun.

“It’s a difficult place for Lando at the moment because he’s a fantastic driver and it’s challenging that, as a team performance, they’ve almost gone slightly backward direction compared to the first year when he came onto the scene.

“They were performing really well. That’s just the nature of the sport.”

Russell said that there are drivers like Norris who are all capable of joining in the fight for the title, once the equipment is under them – he pointed to Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc as another example.

“There are probably four or five drivers on the grid who are all deserving to be World Champions,” he said.

“Or at least fight for the World Championship. But, as we know, that’s not the way the sport works sometimes, but we just need to keep working hard and the chance will come.”

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