George Russell questioned Max Verstappen‘s satisfaction at his current F1 dominance, and said half the grid could step into Red Bull and fight for wins and the championship.
After Verstappen said his 2023 Hungarian GP win might be his best ever in Formula 1, the Dutchman added he prefers solo wins without having to fight for victory, and he re-iterated that stance ahead of the Zandvoort weekend.
However, as Verstappen aims to equal Sebastian Vettel‘s record win streak at his home race, Russell challenged whether that’s really the case.
“You need those challenges and even for Max now, for sure he’s loving it but that feeling winning with not much competition,” Russell told select members of the press, including Total-Motorsport.com.
“But maybe the last 10 victories it’s not really been fought for it’s been a pretty straightforward victory for him.
“He’s a huge part of the reason of their success but there’s 10 drivers you put in a Red Bull and they fight for the for the victory and the championship, the same way as at Mercedes before there were 10 drivers you put in who will fight for for the victory
“Even if he starts P10, P1, P15 it doesn’t matter. I’m sure he would love to have a victory where he made that last little difference and that’s what you all chase, it’s the most exciting.”
A battle with Hamilton every weekend
Russell added he still finds motivation despite Mercedes‘ inability to challenge for wins in 2023.
He was part of the Silver Arrows’ junior team for four years from 2017, a period in which they won nine world championships.
However, since Russell joined the team for 2022 Mercedes have only managed one grand prix victory – at the Sao Paulo GP.
That was after three largely fruitless seasons at a desperately slow Williams team where Russell was paired with clearly inferior drivers, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has since admitted he could’ve been promoted to the top team earlier.
“It’s exciting now that we’re in this fight for second position,” Russell added. “So that gives motivation. I’m teammates with Lewis and it’s a challenge every single weekend is a battle, we’ve had a good battle over the last 18 months and that motivates both of us.
“I think if you’re in a position where there’s not really a lot to fight for, that’s when you start to lose motivation.”