George Russell has been announced to go to Mercedes for the next Formula 1 season, earlier this week, and he is ready as ever to jump into the team, as Valtteri Bottas is going to Alfa Romeo.
It’s official. Next year, I’ll be a Mercedes F1 driver. This is a special day for me and I want to say a huge thank you to @WilliamsRacing, @MercedesAMGF1 and everyone who has supported me in getting to where I am today. I couldn’t have done it without every single one of you. 💙 pic.twitter.com/MmGA1vr9mR— George Russell (@GeorgeRussell63) September 7, 2021
The Briton can be young but he is not naive. Russell knows that everybody expects him to play the role of Lewis Hamilton’s back and protector and just help him winning the race but he is eager to prove them wrong and be treated equally by the Silver Arrows.
He commented that it has been “made very clear to me” that he will “definitely go in on level terms” with Hamilton, without the Brackley-based team playing favourites.
“Mercedes are always respectful in that regard to give both drivers the best opportunity,” – the 23-year old stated.
“Throughout my junior careers there were a number of drivers that I was very close with on pace and very often very close with on-track,”- he said. “But there’s no reason why there would be any falling-outs or anything. I’m sure we’re going to race each other respectfully but hard as well at the same time, as Lewis and Valtteri have over the past five years.”
Such a situation wouldn’t be new to Mercedes, it caused them many problems though. The Silver Arrows had Hamilton fighting against Nico Rosberg and the inner competition caused a lot of friction in the team. Since then, they avoided having inner battles, promoting team play and team orders. Will Russell’s arrival upset that?
“Mercedes have had clear experience of a poor dynamic in the team and they’ve made it absolutely clear that they don’t want on a repeat. - the younger Briton pointed out - On a personal level as well I don’t want that either.
“I think it’s so important for team mates to work together to push the team. Next year it’s a new car, there’s no guarantees who’s going to have the fastest car so I guess it’s our job as drivers to push that forward.”- he added up.
However, the excitement for the chance offered, Russell tries to keep his expectations for the next season under control. “It’s not going to be easy,- he revealed - I’m under no illusion how tough that’s going to me. We all know how strong Lewis is and in my opinion he’s probably the greatest driver of all time. He’s a seven-times world champion for a reason. So I think I’m in an incredibly fortunate position that I’m able to go in and learn from the best.”
Lewis Hamilton, on his side, seems happy to welcome Russell to the team.
I want to take a moment to welcome @GeorgeRussell63 to the team. Through hard work he has rightly earned his spot. I look forward to seeing him grow as a driver with this great team and working with him to raise @MercedesAMGF1 higher. See you next year🙏🏾 pic.twitter.com/CRsgrilmUd— Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) September 7, 2021
“I’ve watched a lot of the racing that he’s done, moves that he’s done. There’s no doubt that he’s incredibly talented.”– he stated.
“I’ve not looked into detail where he’s weak or… that’s not something I really put much energy towards. I just know he’s going to continue to get stronger even in these next nine races and next year again he’ll be bringing the heat, for sure.”
“I think new, fresh blood in our team is going to be great, obviously because I’m the oldie there. – he adds up - I think that definitely will energise the whole team, knowing that they have a new youngster coming through who’s super-hungry, driven and will be pushing the team forwards.”