Autosport (UK)

George Russell


Russell could be described as the Mika Hakkinen of this era, thanks to his straight line trajectori­es through corners. Like Mika, and actually how Kimi Raikkonen did too at his peak, Russell will go a little bit deeper on the straight, then do a slight turn, which then blends into a hard turn. It makes for very straight lines and stems from very decisive inputs at the wheel.

It’s a very smooth and fast method, especially in this Pirelli era of being unable to load up the front axle too much. Just watching his hands, you see that strong input made on entry, and then he too can open up the wheel to take the lateral load off when accelerati­ng.

Russell has a rather a minimalist driving style, but in a different way to some others in his class. It’s much more determined and seems to come from a clear idea in his mind of what he wants to do when he gets to a corner. That’s, ‘I’m going to brake here, I’m going to turn the wheel, the car is going to respond, and that’s just what I’m going to do’.

Compared to Hamilton, it’s overall a bit smoother in terms of steering inputs – because there’s really just one clean movement. He doesn’t creep towards an apex like, say, his team-mate does more. Hamilton has always been happy with more rear instabilit­y than most, but the trajectory that Russell takes naturally has the rear of the car more planted anyway.

Russell does a lot of the corner rotation and a lot of the steering in that decisive first input. And because of this, from the apex onwards, if the car is sliding when on the power, it doesn’t hurt him so much. He’s got less lateral g, so he’s still accelerati­ng out of a corner, but not overheatin­g the tyres. It all comes from very strong self-confidence in that first steering input. But that requires a car where the front end responds and has a rear that’s calm.

If Russell was racing in the tyre war era – perhaps with Michelins – you suspect he’d be devastatin­g, as Raikkonen was in his Mclaren years.

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