Russell expects 'good feeling' from Mercedes as he chases Silverstone win


Fuelled by F1 fan fervour, George Russell arrives at the 2024 British Grand Prix on the back of a race win and in the best Mercedes he's ever driven. "I'm expecting it to be a real good feeling through Silverstone," he says

George Russell surrounded by fans and photographers at 2023 F1 British Grand Prix

Russell says he harnesses fan support at Silverstone

Remko de Waal/ANP via Getty Images

The third race of a triple-header is always going to be draining on everyone involved in Formula 1, but George Russell isn’t likely to be feeling the effects right now.

The Mercedes driver received a major boost with his second career victory on Sunday in Austria, especially with the way he had produced such a faultless weekend that left him in prime position to pick up the pieces from Max Verstappen and Lando Norris colliding late on.

But that’s not to say he needed the pick-me-up to be energised for Silverstone. As a British driver heading to a race that boasted an attendance of 480,000 last year, he knew he was going to get some serious backing. But Russell says he was never prepared to experience that as early as his rookie season in 2019.

“I think it was from the beginning, where I couldn’t believe the support I had in my first year,” Russell says. “Obviously I was right at the back at Williams. And that was the first time I’d ever felt that sort of support.

“Then obviously 2020 during Covid, that was a big change, 2021 – I don’t know if it was full capacity, I think it was one of the first races back – but that felt like a real big shift, and then coming into 2022 even more so. Lando and I have spoken about it, we’ve both felt that love from the beginning.”

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For Russell, the love affair with Silverstone started 15 years ago, at a time when he was just 11 years old and racing in karts. But the sight, and sound, of seeing 20 cars screaming towards him on the outside of what was then the first corner made a real impression, even if at the time he couldn’t quite compute the jump it was going to take for him to become one of those stars in that very same race.

“It was as a fan, I really remember 2009, I was stood on the exit of Copse, and I remember watching the race start from there, I think Sebastian [Vettel] was leading … I just remember that noise and the adrenaline that gave me.

“I think I was still too young at the time to really recognise what Formula 1 was, and let’s say that’s where I wanted to be, but I think as any kid, when you go to a sporting event of that magnitude, especially when it’s the sport I did, you’re always thinking that’s where I want to be when I’m older.”

Having been part of a crowd that had Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button to support, but only the latter in contention for a podium spot, Russell now arrives in Silverstone as one of three home drivers in a car that has won races this year.

George Russell holds his fists up after winning the 2024 F1 Austrian Grand Prix

Austrian GP winner Russell has a car to fight at the front


As the event has grown, so too have traditions such as fans lining the roads to spot the drivers making their way through the circuit to pit and paddock area behind the Wing. The festival feel and the sheer size of the crowd adds up to an event that Russell ranks as standout regardless of nationality.

“It is pretty special. There’s a number of races where the fans are so passionate, you’ve got Monza as well. I think Monza and Silverstone are very similar, where the fans are pure motor sport enthusiasts and F1 enthusiasts.

“I think Silverstone do an amazing job of the weekend as a whole, looking at the concerts they have on every year – you’ve got 30, 40, 50,000 people in front of the fan zone stage and all the activities… I’ve got young nieces and nephews who go every year and they love it, and I don’t think you get that at every single race.”

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Wherever they’re from, if a driver is lucky enough to have a home event then they are unsurprisingly faced with an increase in demands on their time. Having the most-attended race of the year as your home grand prix only adds to that, but Russell says he finds ways of feeding off the Silverstone crowd, as well as incorporating a few home comforts.

“There’s a little bit more going on during the course of the weekend, but because I think as a Brit you are sort of fuelled on those emotions and the adrenaline that the fans give you, you don’t even recognise that you’re doing more. And it’s things that I enjoy doing – going to see the fans, you get the energy from them.

“You’re pretty knackered on the Monday morning but during the weekend you’re just sort of riding that wave and it’s such an awesome experience. Staying at Silverstone in a motorhome sort of reminds me of my karting days when I used to travel with my parents in the motorhome. My family are staying in a motorhome next to me this year as well, so it really does feel like a home race.

Focus is undeniably going to be on Norris and Verstappen after their clash in Austria, with Norris also able to provide a stern challenge to the defending champion at multiple races so far this year. But that’s not to say Russell is writing off his own chances after three consecutive races where Mercedes has been able to outperform Ferrari and at times trouble the top two.

George Russell takes a selfie with a fan at the F1 British Grand Prix

Russell powers up with fan energy

Grand Prix Photo

“You need confidence from your car to be quick in Silverstone. It’s the fastest circuit of the year with the biggest change of direction through Maggotts and Becketts, and you need that confidence being built during the race weekend.

“You need to get into that rhythm, and definitely W15 is the most confidence I’ve had from the three Mercedes cars I’ve driven by a long, long way, so I’m expecting it to be a real good feeling through Silverstone.”

Something tells me if it turns out to be a race-winning Mercedes car again for Russell this weekend, that feeling will be even better.