George Russell On Finding Peace Amid The Pressure

George Russell on finding peace amid the pressure

The British F1 ace sat down with Men’s Health to chat about his love of Aussie crowds and why his vision for success is as clear as ever.

THIS YEAR WASN’T supposed to be a particularly out of the ordinary one for George Russell. For the 26-year-old Brit, now in his third year at a Mercedes outfit striving to reclaim its place at the top of Formula 1 after two years of turbulence, 2024 was a chance to knuckle down. Right the ship. Set a course for glory.

True to form, however, the sport had different plans.

The task Russell now faces over the course of this season is an unenviable one, and one that has drastically altered since the pre-season announcement that departing teammate Lewis Hamilton will take his GOAT-level pedigree to Ferrari next season. There is, of course, the not so simple task of racing the fastest drivers in the world over the course of 25 more races to come after this weekend. But with the question now up in the air as to who he’ll find himself partnered with come 2025, navigating the choppy political waters left in the wake of an announcement like Hamilton’s inevitably generates a burden unto itself.

Even so, Russell cuts a relaxed figure walking into Puma’s Chadstone store for an appearance between countless others he has scheduled for this week. Maybe it’s because Puma’s a brand he’s been wearing since he was 11 years old. “My family and I, we all live in Puma. I’ve been wearing Puma every time I go to the gym in casual wear, so I just love being part of the brand. It’s embedded in our lives,” he says, sitting down. But outside of the familiar sportswear, you get a sense, be it through his relaxed new hairstyle or his easy demeanour, that amid the chaos, Russell’s settled into life as one of F1’s stalwarts.

Ready or not (although this writer suspects he is), Russell will be expected not just to one day reach the front as he already has previously in his career, but to lead from it. He is, after all, the Silver Arrows’ chosen one – its next great hope after the company’s (and arguably the sport’s) greatest-ever driver. This year so far, he seems to have stepped up to the plate, both out-qualifying and out-racing Hamilton in the season’s first two races.

At just 26, Russell joins other painfully young classmates like Charles Leclerc and Lando Norris in a stable of drivers around whom the fortunes of a multi-billion-dollar operation resides. It’s a golden opportunity: one that tends to either forge legacies, as it did with Hamilton and Red Bull ace Max Verstappen, or become a poisoned chalice, often through no fault of the driver. This is F1, though, a sport where one can give explanations for a lack of success, but never excuses.



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Train all you want – Russell describes the physicality of life as an F1 driver as akin to that of a rock climber: “You’ve got to be strong and agile, but you’ve got to be light as well” – but that’s the kind of pressure you can’t measure in G-force. “The physicality is very challenging and the fitness side very important,” he says. “But it’s not the be all and end all for us.”

The chance to race in Australia probably can’t come soon enough for a driver in Russell’s position. The world championship’s opening two races, in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, are physically punishing on the track, and despite the inevitable glitz that comes with racing in a Gulf state, fairly sterile affairs off of it. Albert Park, revitalised with a generation of new fans in the years since Netflix’s Drive to Survive, is a place for drivers to let their hair down. Relaxed fans, it turns out, make for relaxed racers.

“I like the vibes in Melbourne,” Russell says. “Australian fans are pretty wild to be honest. They know how to have a good time. I think Melbourne, Austin, and Silverstone, they’re the three best ones in terms of the overall atmosphere of the fans, the circuit and the weekend in general.”

While the desire to be a world champion still burns bright in Russell’s doeish eyes (after all, why else show up), any talk of taking home the title this year is immediately dismissed. “This year, it’s going to be very difficult for anyone but Red Bull to win, but I still see myself as a future world champion for sure.”

In F1, the best of the best tend to find, and then embrace, a level of stoicism the further they get into their careers. One must accept that in motorsport, they can only control so much – a tough ask for a driver who visibly wears his heart on his fireproofs as much as Russell does. This is the year for Russell to make peace with whatever comes his way. To transcend the frustration that has seen him giving teary-eyed interviews when a good result has been snatched away from him in years past. To become the leader Mercedes so suddenly needs him to be.

So far, he’s off to a good start.


INSTAGRAM I @georgerussell63



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