George Russell says the criticism he received in the wake of his radio outburst aimed at Mick Schumacher in last year’s Singapore Grand Prix made him aware that his comments in F1 would no longer go under the radar.
A pitlane start at Marina Bay and his Mercedes’ poor performance left Russell constrained to the tail end of the field for the duration of the 59-lap event.
At one point he found himself battling with Haas’ Schumacher and clashing with the German at Turn 1. The two drivers survived the contact, but Russell radioed his crews to complain of the German charger’s defensive driving.
“Schumacher is defending like it’s the race of his life, crikey,” he said, a comment that was picked up F1’s world feed and which wasn’t lost on the Haas driver’s fans.
Criticism ensued, but Russell’s takeaway was that his status as a high-profile Mercedes driver, and anything he would publicly express, were now submitted to the highest level of scrutiny.
“These are things that are part of the experience when you are at the front,” Russell said, quoted by Motorsport.com.
“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 of it: one, it’s fighting your case; but two, it’s you just trying to offload some frustrations. And you do sometimes forget you are talking to the whole world.”
Russell admitted that his radio rant was more a reflection of his boiling frustration than of Schumacher’s driving.
“My comment with Mick was more frustration from my side,” said the Briton.
“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 am frustrated, I am upset. And anybody who is frustrated or upset, physically exhausted, you are going to be a little bit emotional in the heat of the moment.
“If you go running on the treadmill for one and half hours in 30 degrees heat, with high humidity, and you’ve been overloaded mentally, then something happens that goes against you, you are going to be a bit frustrated.
“This is part of my experience of, one, controlling this [frustration], and two, [thinking] ‘do I need to say it publicly?’ And I think that’s one of the challenges of this sport,” he reasoned.
“You have no privacy. I have chosen to be the racing driver, because my dream is to become a Formula 1 world champion.
“My dream isn’t to be famous, to be in front of the TV cameras day in and day out. My job and my dream is to race and to 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 also an experience for me. As I said, I probably said a lot of comments like this previously over the radio, but no one gave two damns.”
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