George Russell declared he has quit social media after experiencing an outpouring of negativity.
Like most Formula 1 drivers, the Brit has amassed a huge following across all platforms. He has almost seven million followers on Twitter and Instagram alone, but Russell says those accounts are now managed by other people.
He says spending time on those apps does not bring him any positivity. And negativity has only increased in the last fortnight, since his collision with Lewis Hamilton which saw his team-mate crash out of the Qatar Grand Prix – even though the seven-time world champion accepted full responsibility.
I saw a post that said, ‘If you use your phone on average for four hours a day, by the time you die you will have spent 15 years looking at your phone’. And when I read that, I was like, ‘Jesus, I could spend 15 years of my life on my phone.’ I can do something wiser than scrolling through Instagram memes.”
Russell has already said he has given up on his personal ambitions for this season after a difficult year. He has slipped to eighth in the drivers’ standings and says he is now solely focused on helping his team to finish second in the constructors’ championship.
But it was long before that decision was made that he had begun the process of walking away from both social media and wider news coverage of F1. “I stopped using Twitter about six months ago,” he explained.
In recent weeks, Russell says he has stayed completely away from social media. “It all stemmed after the summer break when I didn’t use my phone at all,” he told the Press Association. “During that period when I had my family and friends around me, I had an average screen time of 15 minutes. In a normal week I have an average screen time of three hours.