George Russell Reveals His Biggest Karting Rival is Secretly Working at Mercedes F1

Published 01/13/2022, 10:36 AM EST
Formula One F1 – Italian Grand Prix – Autodromo Nazionale Monza, Monza, Italy – September 10, 2021 Williams’ George Russell arrives at the circuit REUTERS/Jennifer Lorenzini


British driver George Russell joined the Mercedes team ahead of the 2022 F1 season. Though relatively young, Russell is one of the most lethal forces on the F1 grid when he takes the wheel. After winning the 2018 GP2 championship, the 23-year-old made his first F1 appearance in the 2019 Australian Grand Prix for the Williams team.

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Now, after three seasons with the team, Russell has left Williams to join reigning champions, Mercedes. Notably, Russell’s previous boss Jost Capito called him a ‘polished diamond’ for his performances with the team. The wunderkind had an exceptional junior career, battling current F1 stars like Lando Norris and Alex Albon.

Russell recently named his fiercest opponent growing up and some F1 fans might not be aware of him.

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Russell considers fellow British driver Ben Barnicoat as the toughest opponent he faced during his junior days. Barnicoat is currently serving as McLaren Automotive Customer Racing Factory Driver. Interestingly, Russell made another revelation; Barnicoat is also associated with the Mercedes team.

Formula One F1 – Russian Grand Prix – Sochi Autodrom, Sochi, Russia – September 25, 2021 McLaren’s Lando Norris celebrates pole position after qualifying with Williams’ George Russell who qualified P3 Pool via REUTERS/Yuri Kochetkov

George Russell on his childhood rival Ben Barnicoat

The 2022 F1 car comes with major changes to encourage close battles and a distributed championship fight. Many teams have started with the crash tests and a few are already done with them. Apart from that, drivers are trying out the new machinery in simulators and they will soon be on track for the winter testing.

In a recent Spotify Podcast hosted by F1 journalist Chris Medland, Russell revisited his karting days and shared some amazing stories. When asked about a rival in Karting days who stood out, Russell named Barnicoat.

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“I’d say my biggest rival in Go Karting was a guy called Ben Barnicoat who came through the ranks with me and he was my rival from the very first championship I was racing. There was always a rivalry, we had quite a few incidents along the way,” said Russell in the podcast titled “My Big Break.” 

“Then we ended up being teammates in Formula 3 and became good friends. It’s interesting how these things turn around. He’s actually been doing a lot of simulation work for Mercedes. I’m not even sure if I’m allowed to say that but I’m sure it’s fine. He’s a really great guy and a great driver,” he added.

Formula One F1 – Young Driver Test – Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates – December 14, 2021 Mercedes’ George Russell during testing REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

Russell is currently looking forward to the upcoming 2022 season with the Silver Arrows. As we are heading into the new season, there can be a shift in the power dynamics on the grid. Let’s see how the next season unfolds. Share your views on the same.

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Rituraj Tripathi

259 articles

Rituraj Tripathi is an F1 author at EssentiallySports. A true lover of speed, he is big fan of Lewis Hamilton and finds a future world champion in Lando Norris. Rituraj eagerly looks forward to the paddock moving to the Circuit de Monaco, and he finds Portier corner as the most exciting part of the track.

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