George Russell has explained how the broad criticism he received for his team radio outburst at the Singapore Grand Prix last year showed him firsthand the lack of privacy now afforded to Formula 1 drivers.
Following a poor qualifying that left him stranded out of position on the grid, Russell continued to run in a lowly place outside of the points when he made contact with Mick Schumacher after attempting to pass the Haas driver into Turn 1 on Lap 40.
The incident proved to be relatively innocuous with neither driver ultimately being in a position for the clash to ruin their race, but it did cause the Brit to express frustration at what he believed to be an unnecessarily aggressive move from Schumacher’s side.
“Schumacher is defending like it’s the race of his life, crikey,” were the words of choice that Russell used in the aftermath of the clash broadcasted out on the live feed.
It prompted Russell to receive scrutiny for one of the only times during an impressive debut year with the Mercedes team, but the ex-Williams driver maintains it’s not something that would have occurred if he was still driving further back down the grid.
“These are things that are part of the experience when you are at the front,” Russell claimed.
“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 has since defended the radio message and attributed it to a build-up of frustration emanating from struggling on notoriously one of the most demanding tracks on the F1 calendar.
“My comment with Mick was more frustration from my side,” the now one-time F1 race winner stated.
“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.”
Since discovering the extent of the backlash caused by the incident, Russell has detailed the lack of privacy F1 drivers are entitled to and has now vowed to control his emotions better inside the cockpit as he prepares to embark on his second season with the Mercedes outfit.
“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 continued.
“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.”