New Mercedes signing George Russell has emphasised that he and new team-mate Sir Lewis Hamilton must prioritise working together over battling each other on track.
Russell moved to the Constructors’ Champions to replace the outgoing Valtteri Bottas, who moved to Alfa Romeo for 2022.
The 23-year-old claimed his first Williams points at the Hungarian Grand Prix last year, before taking his maiden F1 podium at the bizarre Belgian Grand Prix a few weeks later.
He deputised for Hamilton at the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix when the serial world champion was ruled out due to him testing positive for COVID-19.
Russell was immediately on the pace and seemed to have the better of Bottas, but he was denied victory in Bahrain by a pit stop blunder and a late slow puncture.
Much has been made of how he will get on with seven-time world champion Hamilton, with 1996 World Champion Damon Hill recently advising Russell not to try to “knock spots” off his team-mate.
Russell also recognises this, and appreciates that he and Hamilton are currently on different career trajectories.
“I think there’s a lot of respect between Lewis and I. I think we’re in very different stages of our career,” Russell said on the F1 Nation podcast.
Owing to the new regulations in 2022, the former Williams driver reckons that every race will be a steep learning curve this year.
“Lewis is the guy he is for a reason – he’s the greatest of all time. I think we go in there [and] we need to help each other because, [in 2022], the cars are just going to be developing so much, race after race.”
As such, the Briton reckons that teamwork is key to Mercedes succeeding in 2022 and beyond.
“It’s not who has the quickest car at race one, it’s who has the quickest car throughout the whole season. And, as drivers, we need to work together with the team to move us forward as one, and that’s going to be the key.”
Speaking on his arrival at the German manufacturer, Russell thanked Mercedes for all the effort they have put into him throughout his young career.
“They gave me my first opportunity in Formula 1, which I will be forever grateful for. But I think, above all, [they] helped mould me into a better all-round driver, helped me learn the technical side of the sport much more and just develop my skills globally to become a greater driver,” he said in a separate interview.
Having raced with the team just over a year ago, Russell already feels that he will enjoy a good relationship with his new employers.
“I guess, above all, you build these bonds and these friendships with people, especially through the good times and even the tough times.
“You grow closer together with so many of your core group of people and that will last forever,” he explained.
Russell’s first year with Mercedes this upcoming season will be his fourth in F1, having began his career with Williams alongside the returning Robert Kubica in 2019.