Generation game: George Russell the latest symbol of a shift in Formula 1
Posted By: James Allen  |  15 Oct 2018   |  12:59 am GMT  |  225 comments

On the stage at the Autosport Awards last December, David Coulthard took a mobile phone and shot a selfie with what he described as ‘the future of F1’.

In the shot with him were three fresh young faces; Charles Leclerc, Lando Norris and George Russell.

DC wasn’t wrong. A year on and all three of them are confirmed 2019 F1 racing drivers for three of the sport’s most storied teams; Ferrari, McLaren and Williams.

Norris is the youngest and least experienced, he’ll turn 19 next month. Russell is 20 and will shortly add the FIA F2 title to his GP3 title won last year.

Leclerc, as we know, has landed the big prize as he will race for Ferrari next year at the age of just 21.

The announcement at the end of the week that Russell had been signed to Williams not only greatly strengthened British talent in F1, but it does underline the generational shift that began with the outrageously young Max Verstappen hiring by Toro Rosso, but which has since continued with Esteban Ocon, Lance Stroll, Pierre Gasly and more recently the trio in the photo above.

And significantly, Gasly and Leclerc have already been elevated to top teams for 2019.

With F1 cars being so much safer, we’ve seen a trend since the 1990s for numerous drivers to have careers lasting over 15 years, which makes it hard for young talent to break through. With so much money at stake, teams were unwilling to take risks on young drivers who inevitably makes mistakes as they learn the ropes.

Verstappen broke that mould and gave teams confidence to hire young talent rather than the old reliables.

But there’s no doubt that this crop of drivers aged between 18 and 21 now taking up the grid slots in F1 are particularly talented cohort, with several potential world champions among them.

This should make for some great competition in a few years time, as they hit their prime and this will co-incide with the likely timing around the retirement of multiple champions Hamilton and Vettel. If F1 can also capitalise on this in the 2021 rules by levelling the playing field a bit so the gap between the top teams and he rest can narrow, then there is a lot to be optimistic about for the sport.

The noises are not too encouraging on that at the moment; the old vested interests are well entrenched. But fans want to see great drivers battling it out and at least those vital ingredients appear to be in place.

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Other than racing aspect, f1 should be social trademark, boysHow or technology benchmark.


To push driver to the limit, formula one should have a 150 laps race


In the shot with him were three fresh young faces; Charles Leclerc, Lando Norris and George Russell.

DC wasn’t wrong. A year on and all three of them are confirmed 2019 F1 racing drivers for three of the sport’s most storied teams; Ferrari, McLaren and Williams.

Norris is the youngest and least experienced, he’ll turn 19 next month.

Sorry to be a pedant, but those two semicolons should be colons and the comma in the bottom sentence is what should really be a semicolon.


Albon will be a top guy, I don’t know about the top guy. He’ll certainly be one of the favourites though.

Nyck de Vries is one to watch, he’s always been noteably quick, but lacks consistency and sometimes makes some poor judgement calls. He’s a McLaren junior driver

Tadasuke Makino won the feature race at Monza this year, from 14th on the grid. He has the might and will of Honda behind him, and iirc, comes from an extremely wealthy family (I think it’s one of the Japanese electronics giants).

Max Gunther is another one to keep an eye on. He was Norris’s main competition in 2017 F3, actually leading the majority of the season until a late season slump saw Norris take over the top stop. He has backing from BWT…ironically his F3 slump started the exact same race in which he first started displaying the BWT sponsorship. He got off to a bit of a slow start in F2, but picked up a race win, and is more constantly near the front now in the second half of the season.

The of course there Schumacher if he goes to F2, along with possibly Ticktum.

There’s also Callum Illot, who’s been doing GP3 this year. I’m completely out of touch with GP3 right now, it’s a series I tend to save for the off season. I don’t know who could be coming out of that series as potential F2 front runner.


Thanks Twitch, I might just downliad a few of this years F2 to keep myself amused in the off season. Sometimes it’s more interesting when you already know how things pan out, you notice key moments more.

Will keep an eye on the young guns you mention next year.


we should have formula one shift with drivers from 18 to 21 series and professional driver. Formula one fans should have factory visit too.


Hi James!

Please do something about the “Sort” button in iPhone Safari browser. It disappeared sometime ago


So Russell and Norris are exciting future. Multiple world champions in the making, God’s gift to G1.

Yeah, I’d be much more excited if I didn’t remember British media portraying Karun, Jolyon, Paul Di Resta in the same way not so long ago.

At least Russell and Norris are clever, which counts for a lot when getting into and staying in F1. They didn’t believe any nonsense Toto and the likes were spinning and smartly went and bought themselves the sits. Nothing wrong in this by the way as it seems the only route to F1 these days, but the jury is out as to whether they are F1 material.


Lando has always been McLaren destined, and Mercedes *did* buy the seat for Russell, so I am not sure what you are on about.


Its all about luck really. Rosberg came in and looked good in a williams that was quite good

If it had been this years williams or mclaren he would have been out after a couple of seasons and doing DTM.

So spare a thought for f1’s latest f2 and f3 stars ejected like all those before that never got a fair chance.

F1 is the pinnacle of inequality more than anything else so good luck to this latest batch of new boys in bad cars.


Britain is a country living in the past empire glory. Just hope for the two young guys going to Willams and McLaren that they will succeed never the less, as both these companies, despite being touted as ‘…the sport’s most storied teams…’ today are just sad shadows of their former days and today at the very bottom of F1 after years of decline, screwing up the careers of multiple new driver talents along their demise.


Cyber, your idea of Britain living in the past is total nonsense. Why not tell us where you’re from, then we can all indulge in a bit of national stereotyping of your home country.


@ jdr

Indeed, Lewis and Rosberg made each other better for as the saying goes, iron sharpens iron.


Charles Le Clerc has shown himself this year, & I look forward to seeing him worry Vettel.

Lando Norris has spent many hours in the McLaren simulator, but still seems to lack something in his GP2 campaign, which suggests to me that George Russell is the better pick. I hope Williams can sort a decent car for him to continue his dominance over Norris.

Of all the new breed, I think Le Clerc will flourish, but I have deep concerns for Gasly at RB. With the huge money thrown at Vestappen, I fear that Pierre will receive the short straw, & suffer the ire of Helmut Marko.


Hope this next generation can bring some life and excitement back into F1!

The last 10 years have been dismal, where the car domination is potentially the biggest culprit.


The graph doesn’t give the whole picture. Viewers/fans of racing who actively followed F1 in 1960 are at least aged 80 now, and might not have participated in the data. No wonder, financially active generation of 30-55 years old, dictated the outcome of the above data.

Richard Mortimer

Agree. More (younger) people should grab a history book and look up races on YouTube as well.

There is a great series of books by Haynes (in the UK) that goes right back to 1950. I have a double bound set that goes to 1973. The other years I have covered elsewhere and from 1976 I was following the races.

(Imagine my first year watching the Hunt vs Lauda battle)! To me, the best years are the ones were (at least) 2 men in different cars are battling. In 1974, Lauda should have been champion. He was leading up to Britain, which he led most of the way. He was forced to change a tyre (having tried for too long to limp it home) but the pit exit was blocked. He was classified 5th. From then on he failed to finish a single race (it was very dramatic). Up to Britain he had either finished 1st or 2nd (or not finished). His pole record that year was remarkable. He dominated…

But, it came down to the last race in the US with Fittipaldi and Regazzoni tied on 52 points and Scheckter on 45 (with an outside chance). Fittipaldi finished 5th and won the title!

1977 was great with 8 drivers winning races in 6 different cars. The stand out package was Andretti in the Lotus, but Lauda won with superior reliability and consistency.

That graph is crazy showing the 1950s as the worst decade for interest = rubbish. Fangio in Germany in 1957 is one of the stand-out drives in F1 history!

2000s? Boring, Schumacher team orders monotony! Only time I took no interest in F1! Things perked up in 2003 when Williams came alive!

Title battles in 2005, 6, 7, 8 & 9 were good too. I suppose that is enough to swing it for those who watched live?


are you suggesting that the next generation of drivers will be as good as each other in guiding their engineers to build them cars of more equal performance?

when raikkonen finally retires from f1, it’ll be hamilton and the going ones. will they beat him?


Only 6.8 percent for 2010s? TimW reckons it’s as good as it has ever been.

I reckon 1990s was the best. Cars looked great, sounded ferocious and scary, the tracks still had proper corners that punished drivers for their mistakes and you never knew who was going to win the championship.


The F1 industry’s own numbers they publish annually are clear on the grim facts that number of F1 spectators have been in consistent decline over the past 10 years. No LHFC agitator can change that.


Luke, I’m not the only one. Just like your not the only one who is convinced that everything was wonderful in ‘the goid old days’. I wonder if a similar survey was done twenty years ago? I bet the blocks would look very similar…..


I never said that you were the only one. There is 6.8 percent of you, and whatever actual figure that represents.

Come on Tim, even the 70s received more votes than the 2010s, and the races weren’t even televised then,mwith a few grainy exceptions like Monaco and silverstone.


Burst your Bubble time.
You’ve got more chance of platting Griffin hair Cyber. The car manufacturers “are” and “will always be” the main factor in F1.
Red Bull even as privateers were basically defacto Renault no.1 team.
Mercedes have done a great job as did Red Bull before and McLaren and Ferrari. Every car manufacturer dreams of this winning Hiatus. It’s Big Teams wet dream 🤜😁
If you want pure equal machines and rider talent then SpeedWay is the way to go.
But hoping for a “My Little Pony Rainbow Unicorn F1, in the future”… is wishful thinking.
But please feel free to give the Unicorn a vigorous brush 😉 maybe it’ll bring the young drivers a bit of luck👍


Oh, they’re British. So British. Yay, they’re British. Does anybody outside Britain care? I don’t. If they are fast & capable, then I’ll care.

When Adrian Newey was trying to squeeze the tall Mark Weber into the Red Bull, he had to extend the cockpit nose & accidentally found an aerodynamic advantage. I wonder if Williams can do the same with George Russell. We know they need it.


Saxe-Coburg of Gotha


🇬🇧Hey calm down about the British 🇬🇧
🇬🇧 you will upset the Pub Landlord 🇬🇧
‘Al Murray The comedian as Pub Landlord’
who like the Royals has a German grandparent and is fluent in German.
But not a Saxe-Coburg of Gotta🇩🇪…
like err
The Windsors 🇬🇧😉nothing like a global skermisk to get your name changed…rapido😁
It’s just great to have our🇬🇧 guys on track next season. Or if you’re Spanish Mexican 3 Amigos💁‍♂️


Whilst it’s always difficult to speculate, I’d say Norris is the most likely pretender to the throne once F1’s current era of Lewis Hamilton domination eventually comes to an end. I’ve watched most F2 races this year and although Norris hasn’t massively impressed me, there’s been enough media hype about him from those who are more well informed to make me think that he must be a future star


So James, why has Liberty backed off on their goals for 2021 regs? Were the risks of Ferrari backing out really that severe?


Joffrey. The removal of the mguh was mooted in order to make the sport more attractive to new engine builders, but none came forward, so there was no point upsetting the current manufacturers.


I don’t know about the full suite, but with regards to getting rid of the MGU-H, it seems the likelihood of any new entrants from VW, Aston Martin etc had massively receded, so there was no incentive for Ferrari/Mercedes to agree to an expensive redesign.


@ Andrew M….I suggest, if you haven’t done already, read the statement put out by the head of Cosworth re their original intention to partner Aston Martin by way of engine building.


There will always be a bunch of useless young untalented along the way too.

We have the strolls ruining the sport.


What exactly have got against Stroll? Is it just cos his daddy is richer than yours? Because if it is You might be surprised that probably half the F1 drivers in history were from very wealthy families. Take Lando for instance remind me how much his dad is worth or indeed how much he’s spent getting him to the point McLaren were interested.

Thing is I don’t like Stroll much and he hasn’t exactly shone in his time in F1 (although few could in the current Williams), however Stroll won several junior series prior to joining F1 so I don’t see why he shouldn’t Get a chance, well unless I was a class warrior with a chip on my shoulder about rich folk (ie half the paddock) . I’m not Sure how you think stroll is ‘ruining ‘ the sport, if anything he’s taking it back to it’s roots, I.e. entertainment for wealthy playboys’ wager to prove their worth with heroic derriing dos just like it was in the good old days pre f1. Enjoy


There is one missing. Ocon. Gasly I’m glad got his spot. I look to see what LecLerc and Gasly both can do.

But these guys are the future if there is one for sure.


Just seen that Wehrlein has signed up for Formula E, meaning Toro Rosso still have a spare seat for next year. Time to fire up the Mick Schumacher rumours?


@Andrew M, it looks like the spare TR seat may be going to Alex Albon mate.


I would not be against Albon at all, he’s got backing but he’s done well in F2 this year, especially his qualifying pace; I definitely think he’s worth a look.


My heart goes to the generation that got ignored: Perez, Hulk, Romain, KMag.



All the drivers you mentioned drove for either a manufacturer or a top team. One even drove for both.

Perez- Mclaren

Hulk – Renault

Kmag – Mclaren, Renault

Grosjean – Renault

They were all given chances but didn’t impress very much during their time at a coveted seat.

Although, I wish Perez replaced Massa at Ferrari in 2013 instead of going into an uncompetitive Mclaren. The Mexican did pull above his weight with podiums for both Sauber and Force India. But again, he didn’t impress in a dud Mclaren against ex-champ, Button so who knows how good he could have been against Alonso in a race winning Ferrari. I would have loved to see that though.

But isn’t driving for Williams and Mclaren nowadays tantamount to being ignored?

Out of the three, Leclerc is the only one who really won in the silly season sweepstakes.


Atleast 2 out of the above 4 would win championship in the current Mercedez car, and Alonso/Ham/Vettel wouldn’t win any championship what so ever, in renaults and McLarens.

Richard Mortimer

Interesting those drivers you listed are leading the mid-field battle! That says that they could be winning in a front-running car.

It’s hard to know why drivers go better with some teams and not with others. The classic example is HH Frentzen. Looked a dud at Williams, won one race, but Villeneuve took the title. So, that looked a big mistake from Williams as Hill would have been better, and they lost a reigning world champion (again)! (4 times: Piquet 1987, Mansell 1992, Prost 1993 and Hill 1996)!

Then, when HH was teamed with Damon at Jordon, he blew him away and was a title contender! Go figure?

Maybe drivers going to a big team think they are the best. I heard J Stewart say, recently, that he never considered himself the best (at the time)! Think that attitude is needed.

Just because they are in a top team does not mean they are the best. The attitude needs to be, “how can I best improve?” That makes all the difference.


Ignored? I’m sure Sebastian Buemi, Jaime Alguersuari, and countless others would love their longevity!


JOffrey isn’t Alguersuari now a Euro Dance DJ ?


It happens and always has.


None are British…


Lkfe, or any good….


LFKE and TimW😂😂
Ever thought of touring ?
Edinburgh Festival ?


Here all week BKF!


They’ve all had their moments Tim. Kmag was on the podium on debut, Hulk has been consistently quick all his career, Grosjean has had flashes of brilliance and Perez is probably the most podiumed midfielder…they are a lot better than DiResta, Palmer et al
The fact is there aren’t enough good cars going around and these guys don’t have guys like Toto working the back rooms for them…so we’ll never know…
I’d also add JEV to the list…i reckon he was better than all the above.


Lkfe. We already know, if they were good enough to be in a top team, they would be in one. The teams study every lap of every session for every driver, they know exactly who the best guys are.

My original comment was a tou ge in cheek response to your (no doubt similar) original suggestion that the reason those guys didn’t hit the big time is because they aren’t British, clearly that’s nonsense.


The old drivers are slowly out with fresh blood coming in.

Some have not lived upto initial hype / expectation like Vandoorne, Kvyat (gone and now back), number of previous drivers at TR, Werhlein, Magnussen (out from McLaren, Renault and now at Haas), etc.

I still feel some of the young guns need time at Junior series and hone their skills. While Max is so called hot talent, he joined without the grind in junior series and even in his 4th year (he will hit 100 GP next year) is still making so many mistakes / collisions.

Begs a question as to was it really worth bringing a kid at 17 with little experience OR let the driver toil for a year or two in junior formula ?

Young is good but also want level headed drivers with decent experience. Also experience does not necessarily mean better. e.g. Joylon Palmer, Hartley, etc.


Vandoorne is another good one I think. He is a little slower than Alonso but who isn’t?


What part of Belgium are you from, jdr?


I totally agree Max could have done with a bit more experience. (Seb and Kimi would have liked that too, I suspect). But one can argue it helped the show. And I don’t think RB regrets it, even though it was touch and go for a moment. The gamble seems to have paid off.


Speaking of the new generation, seeing as they’re still pretty young, I think it would be wise to follow Rosberg’s example by working with a sports psychologist to help them deal with F1’s pressures, media pressures, sponsor pressures and life’s pressures all together.


Might be a good idea to do what Rossberg did. Both him and Hamilton made each other a lot better IMO.


…nowhere near as much as the car did…


Oeps forgot to mention Gas, he’s kk I think and deserves a place in F1. I hope he will do alright at RB 🙂


Agree, but sadly I predict 6th for Gas Man, that is 6th assuming Honda bring their very best game to the table next year.

Hope they’re not a light year behind the works Mercedes and a light year ahead of the midfield again or Gas will have a lot of lonely races.


So who of these three will make headlines in the next 2 to 3 years? It’s crystal ball stuff but I expect Leclerc to have the largest impact. Don’t think he’ll fall victim to the big pressure at Ferrari or [strategy-assisted] Vettel dominance. Norris is a big question mark until further notice. Russell appears to hold more promise after a great season. However, at present both McLaren and Williams are not the cars you’d want to start your F1 career in.
They’re all smiles in the pictures. Say cheese, David. Anybody notice Russell always carries the same youthful radiant smile? Nice at first but seeing it all the time is… a bit eerie.


Williams needs the car for Russell. If he has that we should see something but who nose?


Regarding Russells eerie smile: I see what you mean! He looks a bit like a cyborg. A very charming, friendly cyborg. I like him. Also because he’s tall. I think the world needs more tall drivers. Norris is my favourite though. I know almost nothing about him, but he seems to have a sense of humour.

Leclerc I dislike. Something about the way he corrected the guy who held his umbrella during an interview. That little gesture suggested that underneath his cleverly composed human exterior he’s utterly ruthless. Therefore he will do very well next year. (drivers I hate always do very well, and vice versa).


(drivers I hate always do very well, and vice versa)

@wrooaap: so who else do you hate?


Hamilton, obviously. Rosberg (he also did pretty well). Vettel, when he was fingerboy at RB. Nowadays I quite like him 🙂 And of course Schumacher and Senna (both wreckers).


Russell looks to be absolutely the real deal from what I’ve seen. Properly quick, superb on the brakes, excellent in traffic and overtaking, a good racing brain… seems a decent lad too. Lots of hope for him taking over from Lewis as our guy.

Norris… not so sure. He was impressive when paired with Alonso in sportscars but he’s had a few weekends in F2 where he’s just not seemed on it. Maybe there is some maturing to do yet, I guess we’ll see next season.

Leclerc, COME ON MATE!!! Everything crossed for him putting a rocket (torpedo?) up a certain someone’s backside next season!


With all the technical wizardry available for damping vibrations I would have expected a much clearer view of the drivers. How many whiskeys had you drunk by then David?

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