George Russell: “I have been looking forward to this day for so long”


George Russell was fourth fastest on Tuesday in Hungary - Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd

George Russell was on cloud nine after participating in his first Formula 1 test with the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team at the Hungaroring on Tuesday, with the current GP3 Series championship leader completing 119 laps in the W08.

Russell ended the day fourth fastest, and admitted it fulfilled a dream of his to test a modern day Formula 1 car, but the nineteen-year-old admitted it was much different to test this car compared to the GP3 car he is racing this year.

One of the biggest differences for the Briton was in the breaking, with shorter braking distances and higher entry speeds in the Mercedes, while the power steering of the W08 was much different to what he has been used to up to now.

“Today was incredible. I have been looking forward to this day for so long,” said Russell. “It’s every young driver’s dream to drive a Formula 1 car.

“As soon as I got on track, I straightaway understood how much grip and downforce this car has got – it is amazing. 48 hours ago I was driving a GP3 car around the same track, but today was totally different.

“Luckily for me I had done lots of simulator work with Mercedes, so I knew what to expect. The biggest difference is the power steering in the Formula 1 car, and I could feel that as soon as I got out on track. And the braking potential is enormous.

“I was expecting the speed on the straight and the downforce in the corners, as everyone does. But I don’t think anyone quite understands the braking power of this machine. In GP3 we enter into Turn 1 at about 260 or 270 km/h, braking at the 100 metre board. Today, I was going in at almost 300 km/h, braking 25 metres after what I would do in GP3.”

Russell admitted it was a pleasing opening day in the car, working through lots of long runs and race simulations, and he hopes to continue this on day two of the test on Wednesday.

“Today mostly consisted of longer runs with higher fuel loads,” said Russell. “We wanted to see the degradation of the tyres, and mainly trying to work for the race simulations.

“I was quite happy with my performance. For my first time in the car, completing 119 laps and not being far from Valtteri [Bottas] – I’m pretty pleased with that.”