Russell describes 2023 season as 'very strange' after a string of 'missed opportunities'
George Russell admits he will be searching for answers this winter in a bid to understand why he and Mercedes missed out on plenty of opportunities during a “strange” 2023 season, despite having “upped” his performances.
Russell achieved just two podium finishes this year – in Spain and in Abu Dhabi – compared to seven in 2022. He also scored 175 points in this year’s championship – 100 less than he did last year when he finished fifth – and wound up in eighth.
Along with that, Russell’s season was marred by a few unenforced errors that saw his hopes of a podium fade in Canada, Monaco, and Singapore, as well as reliability issues in Australia and Sao Paulo.
When asked how he would reflect on the year, Russell replied: “It's been a very, very strange season. It’s been a season where we've had a lot of pace at times, but never achieved the results that I felt were deserved or were possible.
“So, we definitely need to try and understand why that was. There's been a huge amount of missed opportunities in many regards. It really hasn't been a smooth season. But I think when everything's flowing, when everything's working right, luck tends to be on your side.
“But when, you know, you're on the backfoot, you tend to have bad luck. I'm not one for believing in luck. I think you make your own luck. So, we just need to be faster and lady luck will be with us.”
When asked to compare his 2023 season to his 2022 campaign – in which he finished in the top five 20 times and recorded his maiden F1 victory in Sao Paulo – Russell answered: “It’s definitely something I'm going to look at over the winter.
“The results were so smooth-flowing last year, I think we finished in the top five more than any other driver. And this year, I feel that I've upped my game in my quali pace and upped my game in my race pace, and we've definitely been on the backfoot.
“But we definitely have more competition this year. With McLaren joining the fight in the second half, Aston being there at the start of the season. But ultimately… eyes on next year.”
Looking ahead to 2024, Russell also gave his view on the task facing Mercedes over the winter as they look to close the gap to rivals Red Bull in the hopes of challenging for the title.
“I think the task for everybody is massive,” Russell explains. “We're all trying to catch up to the most dominant car in F1 history. So that's no short task, and everybody's going to have to come together, really focused, really put everything into it and time will tell.
“But I think we're going into this winter in a much better place than we were 12 months ago and two years ago. So, we hope we're not going to stumble over anything. But as I said, time will tell.”