Englishman Nigel Mansell used to say that racing in front of the British Grand Prix crowd was worth a second per lap, ahead of this weekend’s 73rd edition of the race, local hero George Russell wants to prove that theory right by winning it.
It would be 24-year-old Russell’s first win in Formula 1 and, of course, there is no better place to do it than Silverstone, a pebble’s throw from the Mercedes F1 HQ and, of course, a track he knows well.
With three British GP weekends already under his belt thanks to his time at Williams, he now heads to his first race at home as a Mercedes driver, and far more than another podium – to add to the three he already has this season – is on the young man’s mind.
Speaking on the Beyond the Grid podcast, Russell said of the prospect of a podium this weekend: “It would mean a huge amount, but I want my first podium at Silverstone to be on the top step, so that’s what I am absolutely going for.
“Not that I’d back off on the last lap if I’m second or third to not be on the podium, but Silverstone has such a fond place in my heart; it’s where I won my first ever race, it’s where I did my first-ever race as well, won it, first race! It’s where I did my first ever test in a 1 car.
“And just being my home race, the support is huge, so I can’t wait to get there, and I’ll be giving it absolutely everything I’ve got,” declared Russell, who has finished all nine races so far this season in the top five.
George: I think it’s going to feel electric
To win on Sunday, apart from having to overcome the pace-setting Red Bulls and Ferrari quartet, he will also have to beat teammate Lewis Hamilton, who has a record eight Grand Prix victories at Silverstone, each time sending the crowd into raptures and triggering the famous crowd-surfing antics.
Russell knows what it would mean to win on Sunday: “I think it’s going to feel electric to be honest. I remember last year, Silverstone, was the first race F1 had a full crowd back after we spent a year and a half without fans… and it was a slap in the face how much support it was and how awesome it was to have fans back.
“Every driver loves going to great circuits; every driver loves going to the country that the fans are so excited and so supportive of the sport; and every driver loves their home race. And for me, I feel like I’ve got the three in one. So it’s going to be huge,” predicted the Mercedes driver.
Ahead of this weekend’s tenth round, Russell has enjoyed a remarkable streak of nine top-five finishes and lies fourth in the 2022 F1 championship standings on 111 points, 64 down on leader Max Verstappen. Mercedes are third in the F1 constructors’ standings.