George Russell makes Rafa Nadal comparison in complaint about lack of testing time

George Russell 2023 seat fitting Mercedes. December 2022 Credit: Alamy
George Russell 2023 seat fitting Mercedes. December 2022 Credit: Alamy

George Russell has hit out at Formula 1’s reduced pre-season testing, saying the day-and-a-half per driver is not enough time.

This season the Formula 1 teams have just one pre-season test, the sport slashing last year’s six days to just three for this year, the only test running from Thursday to Saturday in Bahrain.

That, says Russell, is not enough time.

The Mercedes driver equated it to asking tennis legend Rafael Nadal to play the French Open after a three-month break with only a day-and-a-half of training under his belt.

“Personally speaking, I don’t think three days is enough,” the Briton told the media including “You’ve got to remember from a driver’s perspective, that is one-and-a-half days per driver.

“We were fortunate to do the [tyre] tests last week but, had we not, that would have been getting on for 12 weeks out of the car from Abu Dhabi to Bahrain.

Could you imagine Rafa Nadal spending 12 weeks without hitting a ball and then going straight into the French Open with one-and-a-half days of training. It would never happen.

“I understand and recognise why we do that, [but] I think three days with two cars would probably be a good place to be, and I think that would probably be the best compromise for all of the reasons why they’re trying to limit it.

“But right now, one and a half days per driver I think is too few.” recommends

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Last season Mercedes had a difficult time even with six days of pre-season action, the Brackley squad discovering their car bounced.

That cost them valuable on-track time as they tried to resolve the problem, the team unable to do so which meant they were on the back foot throughout the first half of the season.

They made inroads in the second half, the W13 arguably the most improved car, with Russell racing to his maiden grand prix win at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix.

This year he’s hoping to add to that tally, conceding that like the car he too has room for improvement as a driver.

“Definitely still room to improve,” he said, “and I feel that fills me with confidence, because I still felt like I performed at a very high level, even though that I know I’ve got a lot more in my pocket.

“I think the main one is probably just the tyre management — something I thought Lewis [Hamilton] was very good at was maximising the stints and getting the most out of the tires across a stint.

“That year under my belt being team-mates with him, seeing some of his traits, has been really, really beneficial for me. So I feel like I was on quite a steep learning curve in that regard, but still, I feel like I’ve got a lot more to come.”

Having started his Mercedes career with a nine-race streak inside the top-five, 2021’s Mr Saturday becoming 2022’s Mr Consistent, Russell’s results dropped off mid-season while Hamilton came to the fore.

The 25-year-old says even in that he learned a lot about himself.

“To be honest, the things that I learned most from always were those difficult races and the races that I, relatively speaking, failed or underperformed,” he said.

“Looking back on those races, I would say most of the reasons were from trying too hard, and that was a big lesson I learned — that sometimes, the harder you try and the more you push, sometimes the result isn’t better, and you’ve got to be very disciplined with yourself in your approach of knowing how hard to push yourself.

“It’s the same (as) if you went to the gym every single day and were doing maximum bench press every single day; at one point, you’re probably going to injure yourself, and it’s not the most efficient way to get stronger. And that’s representative with racing.

“If you go out there and drive the thing in anger, pushing it beyond the limit every single lap, that is not the fastest way to drive. Those races were validation for me.”

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