Two British drivers with ‘very similar seasons’ ahead as key roles approach

Thomas Maher
Lando Norris, George Russell, 2023 British Grand Prix.

Lando Norris and George Russell have a big year ahead, according to Sky's Rachel Brookes.

2024 could be defining years for both George Russell and Lando Norris as the respective dynamics in their teams change.

As the leading lights of the generation of British drivers waiting to succeed Lewis Hamilton as the nation’s foremost, both Lando Norris and George Russell face big years in their careers.

While young, both now have plenty of experience and are expected to show the signs that they are the right drivers for McLaren and Mercedes to throw their weight behind over the upcoming seasons.

Sky F1: George Russell and Lando Norris have to use 2024 as ‘stepping stone’

Russell is heading into his third year with Mercedes this season, for what will be his final campaign alongside Hamilton before the seven-time World Champion departs for Ferrari.

But, with Mercedes now seeking a second driver, the attention will firmly be on Russell to see whether the team is fully confident he is the right man to lead the team forward – this could decide whether Mercedes take a risk on an unknown quantity, or opt for a safe signing to try immediately challenging for a title.

As such, Russell will need to more closely match, or beat, Hamilton in a way he couldn’t manage in 2023.

Similarly, at McLaren, Lando Norris was more closely matched by rookie team-mate Oscar Piastri than many expected. With Piastri entering his second season, will Norris continue to fend off the young Australian?

With all eyes on the two British drivers as they eye up a career shift from being promising ‘up-and-comers’ to outright title protagonists, Sky F1 broadcaster Rachel Brookes spoke of the importance of the coming months for both.

“I think George and Lando have got very similar seasons this year,” she said on the Sky F1 podcast.

“I think they both need to mould their teams around them. This is really important for both of them now they’ve got to that point in their careers where they’re no longer young coming in.

“They’ve got experience, they know the teams they’re in, they need to really build these teams around them now and make them work for them and get the car built the way they want to drive it.

“Lando has committed long-term, and George now sees an opportunity. They’ve got to really use this year as a massive stepping stone for themselves.”

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The opportunity Brookes referred to in Russell’s case is that, with Hamilton heading off, he has the possibility to convince Mercedes to completely shape the upcoming seasons around prioritising him as number one – a situation that hasn’t occurred alongside Hamilton.

Former F1 driver turned broadcaster Martin Brundle said the ingredients are there for Russell to stamp his authority within Mercedes this year – especially as the team ‘subconsciously’ start to favour Russell as the process of slowly freezing Hamilton out begins.

“You’ve got this transition point where Lewis will stop being invited to meetings,” Brundle said.

“[He] will not understand what’s going on with the development of the car in the simulator.

“The team consciously, subconsciously, will favour George – they’ve got to.”

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