Russell explains GPDA appointment

George Russell

Williams driver George Russell has explained his motivations behind becoming a director of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association.

A body first founded in the 1960s, the GPDA works to champion for driver safety in Formula 1.

Former directors include Michael Schumacher, Damon Hill, Mark Webber, and Fernando Alonso.

Sebastian Vettel has worked as a director of the body since 2010, while former racer Alex Wurz has been chairman since 2014. Russell became a director earlier this year.

“I wanted to take on that role because I think what the GPDA has done over so many years has been great for the sport,” the Williams driver said.

“Whenever we’ve had briefings between all of us drivers – which in 2019 was very common, probably once after every two grands prix – [we] would stay after the drivers briefing and we all talk about certain issues or ways we believe we can improve the sport safety, whatever it may be.

“Obviously [it was] slightly harder in 2020 with the logistical issues of COVID, but I was always quite vocal.

“I always quite enjoyed putting my opinion forward and I guess having a voice for the drivers is something I’m quite proud of, to be honest.

“I think I’ve got a very good relationship with a lot of the younger drivers, so I guess Sebastian [Vettel]’s almost representing the older half of the grid and [I’m] potentially representing the younger half.”

George Russell on track over the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix weekend

Part of Russell’s motivation is to know that he helped make a difference.

“I think the future of Formula 1 is looking incredibly bright with Liberty, obviously now with Stefano [Domenicali] and Ross [Brawn] at the helm, and from our side I think the drivers are having a stronger and stronger voice to help shape the future of the sport,” Russell said.

“Obviously we’re in a unique position to be the ones to feel it from the drivers’ perspective, which is obviously a huge part of Formula 1.

“So, I think being at the forefront with Sebastian and Alex Wurz, to push forward these views of the drivers towards Formula 1, towards the FIA, and if I can look back and say ‘I was part of that’, that’ll be something I’ll forever be proud of.”

Russell is in his third year of Formula 1, his career having been spent with Williams with the exception of last year’s Sakhir Grand Prix.

Even in that time, the Brit has seen positive change within the sport.

“Obviously I’ve only been in Formula 1 for the past two seasons, but that involvement we as drivers are having with Formula 1, with the FIA, is increasing,” he added.

“Formula 1 are definitely open and they really want us to be even more involved, so what the future can hold I’m not too sure.

“I’m the new boy on the blocks in this role, so I can’t give too many opinions at the moment – just listen and learn and find my feet as time progresses.”

Russell became a director of the GPDA last month, replacing Romain Grosjean who has departed F1 for IndyCar.

Wurz, Vettel, and Russell are supported by Anastasia Fowle, a legal advisor, who also joined the body as a director in March.

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