How George Russell’s hair led to false alarm raised at Spanish Grand Prix

Henry Valantine
George Russell speaking seriously in a press conference. Miami May 2023

Mercedes driver George Russell speaking seriously in a press conference. Miami May 2023

George Russell reported rain at Turn 5 during the Spanish Grand Prix, but was the only driver to do so – and he later found the reason why.

Russell claimed there were raindrops down into the downhill hairpin at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya during the race, but it later transpired that the water he was seeing was in fact beads of sweat hitting the inside of his visor under braking, from where his hair had not been tucked fully into his balaclava.

With the sheer G-forces that F1 drivers generate under braking, while a not particularly pleasant thought, the sweat flew forwards from the end of Russell’s hair when he braked and hit his visor, and with it being mid-race, there was nothing he could do to stop it while the Spanish Grand Prix was happening.

The Mercedes driver later realised what was happening when he realised no other drivers were reporting rain and the track stayed dry, but was able to see the funny side after moving up nine places to take a podium finish come the chequered flag.

“Firstly with the sweat, I had my hair dangling down in the first stint, I think I didn’t quite get it in my balaclava and that was annoying me because it was in my peripheral vision,” he said after the race.

“And then as I was sweating because it wasn’t in my balaclava, it was dripping down onto my face.

“And then when I was braking, it was coming onto my visor so with the grey clouds, and then the spots of water on the visor I thought it was rain.

“So that was a bit of an embarrassing one. But moving on…” recommends

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The other moment of his to raise a smile during the race came after Russell pulled off arguably one of the overtakes of the race when he dived down the inside of Carlos Sainz at Turn 1, with a late lunge on the Ferrari driver moving him into the podium places.

The radio exchange between him and race engineer Marcus Dudley that followed saw Dudley call the move “a solid job”, before Russell seemed incredulous in replying: “Just solid?”

He was asked about that moment and whether or not team principal Toto Wolff’s more enthusiastic intervention on radio afterwards came as a surprise to him.

“I think it was just a bit of a joke with Marcus, because we have a bit of back and forth I think,” Russell said.

“Toto likes the big radio messages of encouragement, and Marcus and I sometimes say… just be nice and calm in a situation is sometimes the best way to get the result.

“But yeah, it was a pretty decent move on Carlos and I thought it was a little bit more than solid, but it’s just a good laugh.”