Today we’re focusing on George William Russell – the Williams driver who’s been with the team for a while now. Russell was born on February 15, 1998. He lives in King’s Lynn in Norfolk and went to school at West Beck Grammar. His parents are Stephen and Alison who I met in Abu Dhabi last year. They have three children and George is the youngest. And on the girlfriend front, he’s linked with Seychelles De Vries – the sister of F2 racer Nick De Vries.
George is great with fans and is happy to do autographs and pose for selfies. As he’s only been in the sport for almost 2 years at the highest level, I believe he’s lapping it up and enjoying himself.
I often spot him with his trainer Aleix Casanovas.
Interestingly enough, Aliex spent lockdown with George at the Russell’s family home, where he trained George every single day, because he felt it was a little bit safer to stay in the UK rather than return to Barcelona.
So what’s George like?
George is genuine, chatty, and happy to smile. Like most of the young drivers, he’s very mature around the media and really comfortable with them.
Don’t forget, you can actually grab the George Russell photo book by heading to kimillman.com. It’s full of my best pictures of George taken over the last couple of years and can be sent to you almost anywhere in the world.
How does George relax? He likes golf, although he doesn’t play a lot of it. Perhaps long term when his F1 career is finished, he may well get into golf as he likes the relaxation side of it. He’s also very active on social media with three-quarters of a million Instagram followers.
The number 63 is on his helmet and his car. He was the first F1 driver to use that number, and according to him, when he looks at the six, he sees a G, and when he looks at the three, he sees an R. His helmet also has a Maisy K logo on it, so who is Maisy K? She is a UK singer!
I asked Maisie why her name is on George’s helmet, to which she responded, “I’ve always been a fan of F1 racing, and when I had the opportunity to collaborate with such a talented driver like George, I was so excited! I knew sponsoring him would be a great choice.”
George is promoting Maisie to his F1 fans, and at some point, Maisie will feature George in one of her music videos which will promote him to her fans, so it’s a rather unique example of cross-marketing.
Let’s go back to George’s early days of racing. He started karting in 2006 at age eight. In 2010, he won two separate championships and graduated to the KF3 class in 2011, winning another two championships including one in which he defeated more experienced opposition such as Lance Stroll, Max Verstappen, and Esteban Ocon. He then successfully defended that title in 2012.
In 2014, he finished fourth in the Formula Renault 2.0 Alps Championship and competed in the BRDC Formula 4 championship where he clinched that title by just three points. Later that year he became the youngest ever winner of the prestigious Mercedes Auto Sport BRDC Award, beating a host of talented drivers, including one of his closest friends, Alexander Albon. He also picked up £100,000 cash along with an F1 test with Mercedes.
In 2015, he finished sixth in F3 and third the following year. In 2016, he’d all but signed with BMW to race in the German DTM series for 2017, but he got a call while he was laying in the bath from the development manager of Mercedes, who said he just started working with the team and George was the first guy he wanted to sign. That’s where it started – in the bath back in 2016. George then earned Mercedes’ trust by winning the GP3 title in 2017 and the F2 title in 2018.
In 2018, I got a great shot of him out of the car in nice light for the first time at the French GP.
I love this photo – we don’t often see the F2 drivers in the main paddock because they have a different paddock at all the races. In Singapore, he was a Mercedes reserve driver, which meant he was at the track in case something happened to the main drivers. Reserve drivers often do PR in the background working with the team and George has always lapped up that opportunity, as he gets to work very closely with the likes of six-time world champion, Lewis Hamilton
In 2019, he joined Williams after signing a multi-year deal, and when he found out he got that deal, he rang his parents. Apparently, his mother swore and his father was left on the brink of tears when he told him.
His teammate for 2019 was Polish racer, Robert Kubica.
The pair got on well, but the team had a horrid year, and as a result, George ended up last of the 20 starters with zero points. 2020 is looking like a better year for him – he’s partnered with Canadian, Nicholas Latifi, and already in the first five races, he’s done pretty well in qualifying.
Interestingly, he has no manager. Instead, Mercedes Benz manages him as Red Bull did with Daniel Ricciardo in the early years. Daniel now has a management company, and perhaps George will one day end up going that way. What sort of money would a driver like George be on? Well, it depends what you read on the internet – it could be anywhere from US$330 000 up to say a million dollars.
I often think that if George wasn’t a formula one racer, he’d be a model.
He’s tall, he has great features, and he’s pretty natural in front of the camera. In the driver portrait shoot at the start of this season, he shone in front of 40 or so of us photographers.
Who’s his best friend in the paddock? Alexander Albon without a doubt!
They’ve been friends for over 15 years, and I often see the pair walking and chatting in the paddock. When they go into the FAA garage before they do the drivers parade, they’ll come out on the red carpet and either head to a flatbed truck or a vintage car to chat.
That is George William Russell – hopefully you’ve learned a thing or two! Thank you for reading, and stay passionate.