George Russell believes he knows why he was “more comfortable” with the woeful W13 last season than team-mate Lewis Hamilton, with Russell having been used to driving challenging cars in Formula 1.
Whilst Hamilton has spent the majority of his time at Mercedes driving cars that are capable of race victories, the bulk of Russell’s career at the pinnacle of motorsport has been spent at the back of the grid.
The first three years of Russell’s career in F1 were spent at Williams, who were a backmarker during his time at the Grove-based team.
Russell was therefore used to driving an underperforming car, with the 24-year-old having often been praised for extracting more performance than possible from the car.
He took this ability into Mercedes last season, with the team’s W13 having been their worst car of the hybrid era.
For Russell, though, it was still a better car than he’d ever driven at Williams, whereas for Hamilton the W13 was certainly a “huge step backwards”.
The British driver believes this is the reason why he was able to perform better than Hamilton at the start of the season, with the Brit having finished ahead of the 38-year-old at seven of the first eight races of the 2022 season.
“The one key thing is that I came from three years with a car that was very, very difficult and wasn’t very pleasant to drive,” Russell told GPFans.
“Actually, the car I drove from day one [of 2022 with Mercedes], was a better car than what I experienced for the previous three years.
“Lewis came from a world championship-winning car for eight years, so his baseline level of what a good car is defined as, was totally different to mine.
“It was a huge step backward in terms of how nice the car was to drive for him, and was actually a step forward for me. That was probably why I was more comfortable just getting on with it.
“It was probably easier for me to adapt because I was getting a better car than I was used to, whereas Lewis was getting a substantially worse car than what he was used to.”