‘Lewis has nothing to prove’: Russell downplays rivalry with ‘superhero’ Hamilton

George Russell has joined Sir Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes this year after the departure of Valtteri Bottas.

Mercedes driver George Russell has spoken of his enthusiasm at partnering Sir Lewis Hamilton at the team in 2022, adding that he has already been learning a lot from the seven-time champion.

Russell was signed by the Silver Arrows from Williams ahead of the new season to replace Valtteri Bottas, who claimed 10 victories and managed 21 1-2 finishes together with Hamilton in their five seasons together.

The 24-year-old has been part of the Mercedes junior programme since 2017, and he is looking forward to absorbing all the information he can going up against one of the greatest drivers the sport has ever seen.

“We are at different stages of our careers. Lewis has nothing to prove, he is statistically the greatest driver of all time, I think he wants me to succeed and he truly wants to help me,” he said, quoted by the Guardian.

“It’s incredibly exciting that I find myself in a win-win scenario. You’re going up against the greatest of all time who has beaten everybody. I can only learn from him.”

1996 world champion has previously highlighted the importance of Russell not going into his partnership with Hamilton with the intention of “knocking spots off” his compatriot, and Briton maintains that they are working cohesively to beat Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren.

“There is really good respect between Lewis and I,” he added.

“We both recognise we need to work together to push forward because our competition isn’t with each other, it is against Red Bull, Ferrari, McLaren. If we start battling internally, trying to be secretive about set-ups, it’s not going to benefit anybody.

“We are all here to win, and beating your teammate is not the sole goal for any of us.”

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Having begun his karting career in 2006 and taken part in his first single-seater championship in 2014, he spent much of his junior career looking up to the 103-time race winner, so it is dreamlike for him to now be in the same team as Hamilton in the pinnacle of motorsport.

“It is surreal in a way. When you’re a kid you believe they are superheroes. It’s funny when I look at it now that I am lining up alongside Lewis,” he explained.

Both Russell and Hamilton have suggested that Mercedes are behind Red Bull and Ferrari ahead of the start of the new season in Bahrain this weekend, but Carlos Sainz and Max Verstappen have both dismissed these comments.