George Russell has spoken of his enthusiasm at the new regulations that will be introduced in Formula 1 in 2022, and said he is ready for an “incredibly intense” season with Mercedes.
The Silver Arrows signed Russell from Williams for the upcoming season as a replacement for the departing Valtteri Bottas, following three immensely impressive years at the British team.
Bottas has meanwhile made the move to Alfa Romeo, partnering Guanyu Zhou to form the team’s all-new driver line-up.
The 23-year-old says it will be important to get as much recovery time as possible before diving back into training for the upcoming 2022 season.
“I think I am going to take a good holiday at the start of the year,” he told media in a post-season sit-down, as quoted by Autosport.
“I believe that is important, because I think next year will be the most intense year of my life in terms of the racing schedule, but also from an off-track and marketing side of things,” he added.
He spoke about media commitments being few and far between since his arrival into the sport in 2019, explaining that there is simply not as much interest in a team that is further down the grid compared to serial champions Mercedes.
“Going from Williams, where I have been pretty fortunate in a way, not having to do so many marketing activities just because of the nature of the position we’ve been in, to Mercedes, where we’ve got tons of sponsors and lots of commitments that drivers need to tend to,” he explained.
The COVID-19 pandemic temporarily put a stop to a lot of marketing up and down the paddock, and the 23-year-old now believes that sponsors will be making up for lost time.
“This will be also off the back of COVID. With all the drivers and all the teams, it is all going to ramp up because the partners have missed out on 18 months’ worth of activation.”
As a result, the young Briton is aware of the mental and physical challenges he is about to face across the board as a Mercedes driver.
“From a racing side and off-track side, it is going to be incredibly intense.
“So January, [I will] take 10 days off, a nice holiday, reset and then hit the ground running mid-to-end of January, then put everything on the table and go for it,” Russell added.
He went on to speak in further detail about the 2022 cars, which have been promised to reduce the affect of dirty air and make for a better racing spectacle for fans.
“I’m really excited to see the new cars and what they offer for everybody,” he said.
Though an engine freeze means that manufacturers cannot develop their power units this year, it has been widely predicted that advancements on the chassis will have the new cars lapping nearly as quickly by the end of the year as they did in 2021.
Russell said he is excited to help Mercedes develop their 2022 package to ensure they have the strongest car possible.
“That [the racing] is really exciting, but also I am looking forward to being part of the development of a car that will be progressing drastically throughout a season, working with the designers, working on the simulator, putting lots of work in to progress.”
The former Williams driver will partner Sir Lewis Hamilton at the Constructors’ Champions in 2022, and he is rubbing his hands at the prospect of challenging himself against the seven-time F1 champion.
“And then obviously teaming up with Lewis is obviously incredibly exciting. I am in a privileged position to be in to go alongside the best ever.
“It is an amazing opportunity to again progress myself as a driver and see how I fare.”
Russel previously raced for Mercedes at the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix, deputising for Hamilton who had contracted COVID-19.
He looked set to win the race having out-performed Bottas throughout the grand prix, but an error at a pit stop coupled with a late slow puncture saw him finish a heart-breaking ninth.