After several races for the Mercedes team this season, George Russell can now see the main differences between his former team Williams and the German manufacturer’s team he joined at the beginning of 2022.
British driver George Russell began his Formula One career at Williams during one of the most difficult periods for the Grove-based team, which suffered from a lack of performance and saw its finances plunged by the Covid 19 health crisis before owner Sir Frank Williams finally decided to sell the team before he died in 2021.
Russell – who joined the eight-time Formula One world champion Mercedes team this year – immediately saw the difference between the family business that was Williams and the well-oiled machine that can be the Mercedes team with its 2,000-plus employees.
“The spirit at Williams was immense. Everyone there was working so hard, they’re so passionate, but throughout my time there, they were going through a tough time,” George Russell explained on the Beyond the Grid podcast.
“In 2019, it wasn’t a performance year, and it was a survival year in 2020. When the [Covid 19] pandemic hit, the team had to do everything they could to survive and stay afloat and not go bankrupt. They had to pay a heavy price within the company,
Obviously now with the sale of the team and the buyout [by US investment firm Dorilton Capital], it’s really a team on the rise, but it takes time to fine-tune everything,
“At Mercedes, they have been so successful. Toto [Wolff, team boss] has been at the helm for so long, and the culture is ingrained in everyone here. It’s a well-oiled machine that runs perfectly on all its cylinders.”
“I knew how great the team was and how talented everyone was, but it was like a reminder when I joined the team and the level at which they operate,
“It’s really inspiring for me to see 2,000 people giving everything they can to make fast race cars. Their priority is racing, racing and racing and they just want to win. It’s pretty special.”
“There are a lot of key people here, particularly in the race team who have been here since the Honda days and have seen success at Brawn [GP in 2009]. But there’s also a lot of new, fresh energy coming in and bringing great things to the team,
“It’s very much like a family team, even though Williams really was a family business. The majority of the people at Williams, when I was touring the factory, and meeting people for the first time, everyone I met had been there for 15, 20, 25 or 30 years. That seemed to be the case throughout the factory.”
After the first thirteen races of the 2022 season with Mercedes, George Russell has five podium finishes so far this year and secured his first F1 pole position at the Hungarian Grand Prix in late July.
At the end of the summer break, the British driver is ahead of team-mate Lewis Hamilton in the drivers’ championship, sitting in fourth place with 158 points to his team mates 146 (sixth).