The rewards keep on coming for George Russell. As well as being handed the keys to a Williams Formula 1 car next year and being crowned Formula 2 champion this year, the Englishman also received a special award from Pirelli last weekend.
Russell was given a trophy for the best tyre management, voted for by prominent members of the media after an extensive poll. It’s yet another cup for his collection, growing bigger by the day after he clinched another win to seal the championship in Abu Dhabi.
The trophy, which is hand-made in Italy, was handed over by Pirelli’s head of car racing Mario Isola at Formula 2’s prize-giving ceremony last Sunday night. It recognises the fact that one of the key’s to George’s success has been his ability to get the most out of the Pirelli tyres, which are engineered to provide some degree of deliberate degradation in Formula 2. As a result, drivers need to be able to work out when they can push and when they can’t: an ability that George mastered perfectly.
“Congratulations to George for this award,” said Isola. “It’s actually one that’s completely impartial, as it’s voted for by journalists rather than anybody connected with the championship. But of course, we completely agree with the verdict, which comes as no surprise really after the season that George has had!”
The knowledge that George has collected will be extremely useful to him during his Formula 1 career, which starts now. While George has already completed a couple of test sessions for Pirelli this year (in Barcelona and Paul Ricard) as well as some official tests with Mercedes, not to mention a few FP1 outings with Force India, for the first time this week he’s behind the wheel of a Williams: his team for 2019 and beyond.
While George is driving the current 2018 Williams, he gets a first taste of the 2019 Pirelli Formula 1 tyres. This year, there are slightly fewer compounds than before, but the biggest news is that rather than seven slick colours there will only be three: white (hard), yellow (medium) and red (soft) with the exact compounds for each race varying to suit the circuit.
The teams got to try the 2019 compounds in Abu Dhabi this week, but for testing purposes all the colours remain the same (apart from the red supersoft, which is dropped from the line-up) – so Pirelli’s famous ‘rainbow’ can still be seen until Australia. But make no mistake: the 2019 season is underway already.