Russell hits back at ex-F1 drivers’ ‘soft’ jibe

George Russell has responded to comments from a few former Formula 1 drivers criticising the efforts to ease the heat’s effects on today’s racers.

The FIA is contemplating potential solutions after the scorching Qatar GP, where a number of drivers were significantly affected by 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,” Mercedes boss Toto Wolff noted.

But, in the aftermath of the heated debate post-Qatar, ex-F1 driver Christian Danner hinted that today’s drivers might be “training incorrectly”.

“It can’t be the case that the drivers aren’t physically well prepared enough for such an intense race,” he said.

F1 icon Gerhard Berger weighed in, suggesting the matter is “simply a question of fitness”.

“If you’re in great shape, you won’t get sick,” the Austrian commented.

Martin Brundle, another racer from yesteryears, remarked: “I absolutely don’t buy into the weak view that we shouldn’t put them through this kind of challenge.”

But Mercedes’ Russell, a key figure at the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association, defended the current drivers.

“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 added.

On the contrary, Russell’s renowned teammate Lewis Hamilton seemed to align with those hinting current F1 drivers might be leaning towards “too soft”.

“This is an extreme sport,” he stated 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,” Hamilton, who had a crash at turn 1 in Qatar, continued.

“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.