OCTOBER 21, 2023

Russell insists modern F1 drivers not soft

George Russell has slammed a trio of former Formula 1 drivers who are opposed to moves to make racing in the heat much easier for today's racers.

George Russell, United States GP 2023
© Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

The FIA is already looking into potential measures following the oppressive Qatar GP, where several drivers suffered massively in the heat.

If we can find a solution with the FIA to just cool the cockpit a bit more without drilling in big holes, I think we need to respect the position of the drivers, said Mercedes boss Toto Wolff.

However, as the big discussion about heat broke out after Qatar, former F1 Christian Danner raised the possibility that the current drivers are simply training incorrectly.

It can't be the case that the drivers aren't physically well prepared enough for such an intense race, he added.

F1 legend Gerhard Berger agreed, declaring that the issue is simply a question of fitness.

If you're in great shape, you won't get sick, said the Austrian.

And Martin Brundle, another driver from the 80s and 90s, added: I absolutely don't buy into the weak view that we shouldn't put them through this kind of challenge.

But Mercedes driver Russell, director of the Grand Prix Drivers' Association, questioned the validity of those former racers' perspectives.

We're lapping 20 seconds quicker than they did, experiencing 5G loads all the time, he said in Austin.

"Of course we need to be gladiators, but when it comes to heat, the body can only handle so much. The cars of the 80s and 90s didn't have all these electronics, our power steering systems that run at 50-60 degrees.

"We have hydraulic lines running throughout the cockpit that heat up to 120 degrees. Our overalls are thicker than we've ever had since Grosjean's accident.

People can say whatever they like, but things are different now than they were 40 years ago, Russell insisted.

Russell's famous teammate Lewis Hamilton, on the other hand, sides with those who are worried that F1 drivers today might be getting too soft.

This is an extreme sport, he said in Austin. "You don't see marathon runners who pass out saying it should be shorter in the future.

We get paid very highly for what we do, and whenever I didn't feel great at the end of a race I just train harder, added Hamilton, who crashed at turn 1 in Qatar.

"I want it to stay extreme. I want to feel pain in my body. That's what it's about.

We've got to be careful with the changes we make. Let's not get too soft, said the 38-year-old.