George Russell points to Max Verstappen’s ‘six year’ title drought as reason to be hopeful

Oliver Harden
George Russell and Max Verstappen chat during the Monaco Grand Prix press conference

George Russell and Max Verstappen chat

Mercedes driver George Russell has revealed that Max Verstappen’s long wait for a first shot at the F1 title gives him inspiration that his “time will come” in the future.

Verstappen became the youngest-ever driver to race in F1 in 2015 when he made his debut for Red Bull junior team Toro Rosso at just 17 years, five months and 15 days.

George Russell taking comfort from Max Verstappen’s long F1 wait

Despite claiming victory in his first appearance for Red Bull Racing at the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix, the Dutchman was restricted to just nine further wins over the following four seasons as Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes dominated.

Presented with a car capable of competing for the World Championship in F1 2021, his seventh full season, Verstappen dethroned Hamilton and has since established himself as the leading driver of his generation, winning 49 of the last 74 races.

Despite huge success in the junior categories, Russell has been limited to just a single victory since arriving in F1 with Williams in 2019, leading a one-two finish for Mercedes at the 2022 Sao Paulo Grand Prix.

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Speaking to the Mail, Russell has pointed to Verstappen’s extended wait – as well as the longevity of Fernando Alonso, who recently signed a contract extension with Aston Martin to take him into his mid-forties- as reassurance that he still has plenty of time to realise his potential.

He said: “What gives me hope is that Max was in his seventh season when he [first] fought for a title.

“I’m in my sixth, I’m 26, and Fernando Alonso is 43 [in July].

“Seeing him perform as he is, I see no reason why I can’t go into my forties, so I know my time will come.

“I’m not worried at all.”

Verstappen and Red Bull have faced their sternest test for some time over recent weeks, with McLaren driver Lando Norris and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc triumphing in Miami and Monaco respectively.

Despite Mercedes’ struggles under the ground-effect era, Russell is confident that an opportunity to fight for the World Championship will come at some point.

He said: “I believe we will get our chance.

“Now it is Max’s chance, but for the first six years it wasn’t, which was frustrating for him.

“I have to keep working hard and not lose motivation because you don’t know when that chance will come.

“Lando, Charles and I have won races, but none of us has had the chance to fight for championships.”

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