Norris: Russell has lost his ‘fun side’ at Mercedes

Jamie Woodhouse
Mercedes driver George Russell in parc ferme. Baku June 2022.

Lando Norris feels that George Russell has become less fun now that he has made his move to the Mercedes team.

Russell and Norris both made their Formula 1 breakthroughs in 2019 after battling for the Formula 2 title during the previous season, Russell joining Williams while Norris went to McLaren.

The pair were very familiar with each other before that having risen up the junior ladder together.

Norris remains a McLaren driver, while Russell secured a switch to the Mercedes team for 2022, a move which has benefitted Russell on the track, but according to Norris, not in terms of personality.

Norris said all those around him have made an effort to ensure that he stays true to who he is, but Mercedes, albeit unintentionally, has taken the fun out of Russell.

Lando Norris doing a TV interview in the bullpen. Monaco May 2022

“My manager, my trainer, my parents, have always tried to keep me as me, rather than try to shape me,” Norris told Press Association.

“I see other drivers get shaped more because of who they are with, the teams they are with, and I don’t think that is a good thing. It takes away their personality.

“Growing up with George for instance, was a lot of fun. He was a great person, but it is different at Mercedes – a different vibe and a different atmosphere. I just don’t see as fun a side of him.

“George is a great person, and I feel like the personality he had a few years ago, he would be even more popular.

“I don’t think it is Mercedes’ fault but the pressure of being with Mercedes, and having Lewis [Hamilton] as a team-mate, is never going to be an easy thing.

“You don’t want to be seen to be having a fun time and playing around, but on the other side there are no complaints because George is doing an amazing job this year, so it is working for him.”

Russell has recorded a trio of podium finishes with Mercedes so far in 2022, having finished no lower than P5 across the opening five rounds.

It means Russell has 111 points on the board, compared to 77 for Hamilton. Norris has so far scored 50.