GEORGE RUSSELL will be much more comfortable with the tight turns at Silverstone than the signature chasers tunnel.
The Mercedes man is a super-attraction at the British Grand Prix this weekend – but fame doesn’t sit too comfortably with the young Norfolk driver.
He is the only British-born F1 ace to live in the UK, with Lewis Hamilton, Lando Norris and Alex Albon all in tax haven Monaco.
Russell instead lives in a flat in London with his girlfriend Carmen Montero Mundt – and together they are slowly getting used to fame.
The 24-year-old, who moved from Williams to partner Hamilton this season, said: “I’ve definitely noticed a change since I joined Mercedes.
“Also because we’ve been through this pandemic and we didn’t really get on the streets or eat out much.
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“It was a bit of a slap in the face in terms of change.
“I feel like a normal boy. I appreciate that what I do for a living is pretty spectacular.
“I’m lucky enough to do this, but I don’t feel famous. I don’t think I’m famous.”
Aside from seven-time world champion Hamilton and reigning supremo Max Verstappen, Russell is probably the driver most fans want to see at Silverstone.
He speaks with maturity and a Norfolk twang in his accent.
The boy from King’s Lynn said, ‘Maybe other people will think differently. But I feel like George Russell.
“I still think it’s weird when people recognize me on the street.
“We’ve had paparazzi a few times, like on vacation, something I’ve never experienced.
“In addition, fans have followed us on the street a few times.
“Usually it’s with good intentions, but knowing you’re being followed it’s a bit of an awkward position, especially when I’m walking around with my girlfriend.
‘It’s nice that they support you. And without the fans, this sport, and all of us, is nothing – but sometimes I feel more comfortable just staying home.
“I just live in a nice little flat in London, it’s exactly what I need. But I find myself just going from my floor to the gym.
“And the only place I would ever eat is across the road to my local.
“Just because it makes me feel more comfortable. It’s less pleasing to me and my girlfriend. She works in finance in the city and is incredibly supportive.
“When we first met, she didn’t know who I was or anything about F1. We’ve been on this journey together. She’s the person I spend the most time with.”
Russell is still hoping the British GP can pull him into a title fight with Red Bull’s Verstappen.
He is the only driver to have made the top five of all nine races this year.
On podiums in Australia, Spain and Azerbaijan, he is fourth in the general classification, ahead of teammate Hamilton.
But its form has remained largely under the radar, especially given the Merc’s bouncing issues.
And Russell believes it’s only a matter of time before his team can finally unlock their potential.
In an interview at Mercedes’ Brackley headquarters, he told SunSport: “I’m just 18 points off second in the Drivers’ Championship.
“Max looks bulletproof, but things are changing really fast and if we find an improvement in performance and Ferrari find one too, who knows?
“Suddenly it could be a Mercedes one-two, Ferrari in three-four and Red Bull five-six. When you get a series of races like that, it quickly shifts.
“We are focused on one thing and that is to make the car go as fast as possible. If we focus on that, the results will come naturally.”
Asked if he was still in the title chase, Russell added: “Absolutely and I see no reason why not.
“There is still a long way to go and there is still a tremendous amount of development going on. I went to every race for Williams for the past three years thinking I could win it.
“You have to believe it, because if you don’t believe it, you’ll be defeated before you even start.”
Mercedes has won eight of the last nine British GPs and Russell says if they do it again he wouldn’t mind if it was him or Hamilton.
He added: “We both have eyes on the top step of that podium.
“For now I don’t really care if he’s ahead and I don’t think he really cares if I’m ahead because there’s a bigger picture and we’re just trying to turn things around.
“But he was absolutely perfect every race. He always congratulated me when I got a good result.
“There have never been any hard feelings, regardless of the results or the outcome. He has nothing left to prove. He has proven everything.”