George Russell sends warning to Ferrari and Red Bull

George Russell claimed Mercedes' only victory of 2022 at the Brazilian Grand Prix, with Lewis Hamilton finishing in P2.

2022 was certainly an intriguing year for George Russell and Mercedes, with the British driver having maximised what was possible with the W13, a car that saw the Germans unable to challenge for either title.

The new aerodynamic regulations haven’t been kind to the Silver Arrows so far, as they slumped to third in the Constructors’ Championship, following an eight-year streak of claiming the title.

They ultimately designed the W13 with the “wrong” philosophy, with their remarkable ‘zero sidepods’ having been a headache for the Germans.

As 2022 went on, though, Mercedes grew in stature, enough so that Russell managed to claim his maiden F1 victory at the Brazilian Grand Prix.

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The 24-year-old is certain that the Brackley-based team will bounce back, after warning Red Bull and Ferrari that Mercedes “haven’t forgotten how to build a fast race car”.

“They [Mercedes] haven’t forgotten how to build a fast race car,” Russell told BBC Radio Norfolk in an interview, as quoted by BBC F1.

“We just got it wrong this year. We got the philosophy wrong. We went down a route which turned out to be the wrong route.

“Sometimes it takes you a long time to dig yourself out of that hole. Now I feel we’ve dug ourselves out of that hole and we’re building on top of that.

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“We are a step behind Red Bull and Ferrari and we’ve got a lot of catching up to do – but we’re definitely going to be in a much stronger position from race one next year than we were this year,” he predicted.

Given that he joined Mercedes from Williams, it is understandable why Russell was “expecting victories”.

Battling for the top five rather than podiums certainly wasn’t what he would’ve expected; however, that’s simply the situation the team found themselves in this year.

Despite this, Russell has learnt to “manage” his “expectations” and is hopeful that he will look back on 2022 as a “positive” step in the right direction.

“When you join a team like Mercedes you’re expecting victories,” admitted the Brit.

“I felt ready to fight for race wins and championships this year but you’ve just got to manage your expectations.

“You’ve got to change those sights slightly and it’s been really intriguing for me this year, seeing how the team deal with this situation.

“I’m here for the long haul and even though I wanted victories and [to be] fighting for that championship in 2022, as a team these struggles are going to set us up for the coming years.

“I hope I look back in 10 years’ time and say the 2022 season was a positive one in the journey.”

Whilst Mercedes struggled, he certainly can look back on the season with a smile on his face, having claimed the team’s only pole position and victory of the season.

As well as this, he ended the year above team-mate Lewis Hamilton in the Drivers’ Championship, making him just the third team-mate of the seven-time World Champion’s to do so.

Despite joining Jenson Button and Nico Rosberg in an exclusive club, Russell doesn’t feel any “pride” for having beat the Brit, with the team having not been in the title fight.

“If you’d told me at the start of the year that I’d be finishing ahead of Lewis Hamilton [in the drivers’ standings], I’d have been very happy because nine times out of 10 that probably means you’re going to be world champion,” he said.

“It’s a little bit frustrating that this year wasn’t that year. We were both fighting for P4, P5, P6 and we don’t want to be in this position, so I’m not going to walk away from this season with huge amounts of pride because I finished fourth in the championship. I’m here to win.

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“It takes some time whenever you join a new team, regardless of who your teammate is, to embed yourself and gain that trust and confidence within the whole organisation,” Russell pointed out.

“It’s been a good journey for me, being teammates with him. He’s the greatest of all time so I’m in a very privileged position to go up directly alongside him but also learn from him.

“I’m really excited for 2023. I’m still going to be trying to improve my driving, what I do on and off track, and hopefully we’ve got the car beneath us to fight for the championship.”