George Russell has explained how the widespread criticism he received for his team radio outburst at last year’s Singapore Grand Prix taught him firsthand about the lack of privacy now afforded to Formula 1 drivers.
Russell was running in a lowly position outside the points after a poor qualifying that left him stranded on the grid, when he made contact with Mick Schumacher after attempting to pass the Haas driver into Turn 1 on Lap 40.
The incident was relatively innocuous, with neither driver in a position to have the collision ruin their race, but it did cause the Brit to express frustration at what he perceived to be an unnecessary aggressive move on Schumacher’s part.
“Schumacher is defending like it’s the race of his life, crikey,” Russell said in the aftermath of the clash, which was broadcast live on the internet.
Russell was scrutinized for one of the few times during an impressive debut year with the Mercedes team, but the ex-Williams driver insists it would not have happened if he was still driving further down the grid.
“These are things that come with being at the front,” Russell claimed.
“Everything is under the microscope and that kind of comment last year [in 2021] would not have been picked up on.
“But I think there are two parts to it: one, you’re fighting your case, and two, you’re just venting your frustrations. And you sometimes forget you’re speaking to the entire world.”
Russell has since defended the radio message, blaming it on a buildup of frustration from struggling on one of the most difficult tracks on the F1 calendar.
“My comment with Mick was more frustration on my part,” the now one-time Formula One race winner explained.
“I’ve travelled to the other side of the world, put so much effort into that race, and there I am fighting outside the points.
“I’m frustrated and upset. And anyone who is frustrated or upset, or who is physically exhausted, you will be a little emotional in the heat of the moment.
“If you go running on the treadmill for an hour and a half in 30 degree heat with high humidity, and you’ve been mentally overloaded, and something goes against you, you’re going to be a little frustrated.”
Russell has detailed the lack of privacy F1 drivers are entitled to since learning the extent of the backlash caused by the incident and has now vowed to control his emotions better inside the cockpit as he prepares to begin his second season with the Mercedes outfit.
“This is part of my experience of, one, controlling this [frustration] and, two, questioning whether I need to say it publicly.” And I believe that is one of the challenges of this sport,” he added.
“You don’t have any privacy. My dream is to become a Formula 1 world champion, so I chose to be the racing driver.
“My dream isn’t to be famous, to be in front of TV cameras every day. My job and dream are to race and win.
“Some of these comments, this is to achieve that, forgetting that there are millions and millions of people watching at home and every single word is being written down and under the microscope.
“This is an experience for me as well. As I previously stated, I probably made a lot of comments like this on the radio in the past, but no one gave a damn.”