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George Russell: A Formula One World Champion In The Making?

Written by Alejandra Guajardo Lozano, Edited by Meghana Sree

Credit: Mark Thompson/Getty Images

George Russell is a British Formula One driver for the noteworthy Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team. His 2022 season is his best season yet since he started racing in Formula One. With consistent results and a well deserved maiden win, Russell gained the nickname “Mr. Consistency”. He has shown he’s able to win races but can he aim for a championship in the future?

Russell is the 2018 Formula Two World Champion. He officially joined the Formula One grid in 2019 with Williams, signing a multi-year contract. Williams wasn’t the best team of the grid, and it might’ve been at its worst at the time, thereby giving Russell limited resources to aim for wins and podiums or even points. During that period, George was Mercedes’ reserve driver.

His big chance came at the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix where he was requested to cover for Lewis Hamilton after he tested positive for COVID-19. Russell stated that he felt “no pressure” before the weekend started. He qualified P2 for the Grand Prix, just 26 milliseconds behind fellow Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas. The day of the Grand Prix, Russell overtook Bottas at the first corner and continued to lead almost every lap.

But luck wasn’t on Russell’s side that day. With just 20 laps remaining he had to pit twice as the Mercedes mechanics mixed up the tyre sets and fitted Bottas’s front tyres to his car. He recovered to second place, closing in on the race leader Sergio Perez, until he suffered from a puncture and had to pit again. He finished the race in ninth with the fastest lap.

On the team radio after the race, Russell said: “Guys, I don't know what to say. That was taken away from us twice. Honestly. It's been a pleasure and I've loved it and honestly, I'm gutted. I'm absolutely gutted.”

Nevertheless, he was praised by the media and the team for his performance at the Grand Prix. He continued with Williams for the 2021 season, earning a second place podium at the Belgian Grand Prix after an amazing performance the previous day in qualifying. Toto Wolff, Mercedes’ team principal, had his eyes placed on the Briton.

The 2021 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix caused controversy about Russell’s future after he crashed into Valtteri Bottas and caused a scene, hitting Bottas’ helmet even after the crash had been his fault. He later apologised to Bottas and took responsibility for the crash. Despite this incident, he was given his chance and was announced to drive for Mercedes for the 2022 season.

Russell is now a race winner but can he be World Champion? Absolutely yes, just not right now. He’s definitely World Champion material and has proven this a lot of times with his consistency and skilled racing– however he nor anyone else can compete against Verstappen’s dominance at the moment. In future seasons, if Mercedes brings major upgrades and gives him the resources to compete for more wins and podiums, he can surely win the championship.

Russell has recently earned the reputation of being a “reckless driver” after having contact with various drivers during several Grands Prix– the most recent one being Verstappen at the Azerbaijan sprint race where he made contact with the Dutchman, therefore damaging his side pod. After the race Verstappen confronted Russell.

“I didn't do it on purpose, mate,” Russell said in response. “I had no grip. I just locked up.” “We all have no grip!” Verstappen replied. He added: “We all need to leave a little bit of space.”

As Russell walked away, Verstappen called after him and expressed his sentiments towards the Mercedes driver with some choice words.

Russell has been signalled and heavily criticised for all his incidents. It’s possible to say that he just needs to be more aware of his space when racing and take full responsibility when he causes a racing incident, but that comes with experience and experience comes with time.

Russell is a skilled and consistent driver who is eagerly waiting for a shot at the championship; and he definitely has a good chance in the future as he knows how to put up a fight like a true racer. What are your opinions on Russell? Do you think he can be World Champion? Make sure to share your thoughts in the comments.


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