Russell reveals where he ‘upped his game’ in 2023 while he searches for answers in winter break
George Russell has admitted that there are plenty of questions to be answered during the winter break after his “very, very strange” 2023 season ended with a significant points margin between himself and team mate Lewis Hamilton in the standings.
While the Mercedes drivers could not be separated in qualifying, ending the year 11-11 in their head-to-head, Hamilton led 15-6 on race days – Russell suffering four DNFs and describing his clash with Max Verstappen in Las Vegas as “the story of my season”.
As a result, Russell wound up eighth in the drivers’ standings, 100 points down on what he managed in 2022, with seven-time world champion Hamilton five places and 59 points ahead. Asked to compare the job he did in 2023 compared to the previous year, when he also claimed his first Grand Prix win in Sao Paulo, Russell offered a philosophical response.
“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,” said Russell.
“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, luck tends to be on your side.
“When 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.”
With some of the career momentum he had built up disappearing, Russell continued: “It’s definitely something I’m going to look at over the winter, because the results were so smooth-flowing [in 2022], I think we finished in the top five more than any other driver.
“[In 2023], 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, with McLaren joining the fight in the second half, Aston being there at the start of the season.”
As for 2024, Russell admits Mercedes and the rest of Red Bull’s rivals face a “massive” task to reel in the team that has comfortably won the last two constructors’ championships – and three drivers’ titles with Verstappen.
“We’re all trying to catch up to the most dominant car in F1 history, so that’s no short task,” he said. “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.”