LANDO NORRIS believes George Russell has changed for the worst off the track…
Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo at 2022 McLaren launch
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Lando Norris has produced a scathing assessment of George Russell’s personality, or lack of, since ditching Williams for Mercedes. The McLaren star has aimed a dig at Russell for showing less of a ‘fun side’ since making his big move alongside Lewis Hamilton at the Silver Arrows.
Norris, 22, and Russell, 24, grew up together in the United Kingdom, rising up the junior ladder before becoming rivals in Formula 2. After battling for the title in the 2018 season, with Russell coming out on top by 68 points, they both made the step up into Formula 1 in 2019.
And while Norris would’ve undoubtedly been happy for his fellow Brit joining Mercedes this season, he believes the team has taken the fun out of him. The popular racer has claimed that, unlike him, inspired by advice from those close to him, Russell has been ‘shaped’ because of the team he’s representing rather than who he is.
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Lando Norris believes George Russell has become less fun at Mercedes. (Image: GETTY)
He said: “My manager, my trainer [and] my parents have always tried to keep me as me, rather than try to shape me. I see other drivers get shaped more because of who they are with and the teams they are with, and I don’t think that is a good thing. It takes away their personality.
“Growing up with George, for instance, was a lot of fun. He was a great person, but it is different at Mercedes – a different vibe and a different atmosphere. I just don’t see as fun a side of him. George is a great person, and I feel like the personality he had a few years ago, he would be even more popular.”
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F1 returns this weekend with the French Grand Prix. (Image: EXPRESS)
Despite his harsh truth about Russell’s personality shift since moving to Mercedes, Norris has sympathised with his long-time pal due to the pressure of driving under Toto Wolff as Hamilton’s rookie teammate. And he made sure to praise Russell for his efforts in a challenging first season with the Silver Arrows, in which he’s earned the label ‘Mr Consistent’ for getting the most of the team’s troublesome package.
“I don’t think it is Mercedes’ fault,” Norris added. “But the pressure of being with Mercedes, and having Lewis [Hamilton] as a teammate, is never going to be an easy thing. You don’t want to be seen to be having a fun time and playing around, but on the other side, there are no complaints because George is doing an amazing job this year, so it is working for him.”