The 2018 Formula 2 series was one of the most talented that has been seen in recent years, with George Russell, Lando Norris and Alex Albon all making the leap to Formula 1 at the end of the year.
These drivers made up the top three of the F2 championship that year, with Russell beating Norris and Albon by some margin come the end of the season.
Despite looking so strong in F2, Russell was signed by a struggling Williams team while Norris and Albon signed for McLaren and Toro Rosso respectively.
Albon even made a short-lived move to Red Bull after impressive with Toro Rosso, while the man who beat them in in Formula 2 was struggling to even make it out of Q1 with Williams.
While a move to Mercedes was always on the cards for Russell if he impressed with Williams, the Brit has explained that it was hard for him at first to adapt to not being able to even compete with those who he was clearly better than the year before.
“That was a really unique season for my first year in Formula 1 – joining Williams, a team that was on the brink of bankruptcy,” Russell told The High Performance Podcast.
“It was a team [that], every single race weekend was racing to survive. It wasn’t racing to perform, the team was racing to survive and [there were] 800 people’s jobs at stake.
“The car’s falling apart, and we’re being lapped two or three times – [you] kind of think to yourself, is this the dream? But I think I’ve always had a quite rational view to things.
“Seeing Alex in Red Bull scoring podiums and being the man to a degree, and Lando equally always in the points, that was sort of difficult to digest, because I‘ve just come from Formula 2 where I beat them.”
2022 finally gave Russell the opportunity to battle his former F2 rivals, as Mercedes decided that the 24-year-old was ready to replace Valtteri Bottas at the Silver Arrows.
While the W13 was majorly uncompetitive under the new regulations, Russell did manage to get his first taste of victory before Norris or Albon, taking the win in Brazil as part of a stunning Mercedes one-two finish.
It was Albon who eventually replaced Russell at Williams and the Thai will be led by Mercedes strategy director James Vowles this season, after the Brit completes a move to become Williams’ new team principal.