Lewis Hamilton and George Russell discuss the F1 2022 switch they will be part of as the latter joins the former at Mercedes to make it a new pairing.
With Valtteri Bottas leaving Mercedes at the end of the 2022 F1 season, Mercedes will have a new first-time pairing of Hamilton and Russell, as the latter finally gets his big ticket opportunity. There’s a lot of anticipation regarding this new pairing.
After the announcement was made few days back, the two had the first opportunity at Monza, to discuss what they feel about the 2022 F1 journey and what’s to come. Naturally, Russell was asked about how he steps into the new environment against Hamilton.
A lot has been said about playing a second fiddle, while also on how the relation will be, considering the friction Hamilton had with Nico Rosberg. Both were rather subdued about the situation and welcome each other, as they try to know each other well.
New team, Hamilton, how it works –
Russell: “Mercedes are always respectful in that regard to give both drivers the best opportunity. Throughout my junior careers there were a number of drivers that I was very close with on pace and very often very close with on-track. But there’s no reason why there would be any falling-outs or anything. I’m sure we’re going to race each other respectfully but hard as well at the same time, as Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas have over the past five years.
“Naturally, I believe in myself and I have high aspirations but equally, I just know how tough it’s going to be. Lewis is a seven-time champion for a reason and I think I am in one of the most fortunate positions on the grid to be able to go out there and learn from him. For myself, I see this partnership with Mercedes as a long term thing and I guess I need to use next year as a real opportunity to learn everything I can and take it race by race and just see how I get on but I’ve got no initial thoughts really.”
Favourtism, work ethics –
Russell: “Mercedes have had clear experience of a poor dynamic in the team and they’ve made it absolutely clear that they don’t want on a repeat. On a personal level as well I don’t want that either. I think it’s so important for team mates to work together to push the team. Next year it’s a new car, there’s no guarantees who’s going to have the fastest car so I guess it’s our job as drivers to push that forward. I’d say as well Lewis and I are at very different stages in our career which I think also helps. I have a huge amount of respect for him I think being so much younger and looking up to him as a young karting driver changes that dynamic a lot too so I don’t see there being any issues at all.”
Feelings, career, Williams –
Russell: “It’s pretty surreal to be honest because I’ve been part of Mercedes for so long now. I joined as a junior driver, coming through the ranks, testing for them, reserve driver. And still being at Williams they over-looked things, managed me. So in a way I’m almost returning back to where I started my journey towards F1. But equally obviously it’s sad to close this chapter with Williams. It’s been a great journey and so pleased we’ve had some great results in recent races to show for our efforts.”
Thoughts about 2022 –
Russell: “It’s not going to be easy. I’m under no illusion how tough that’s going to me. We all know how strong Lewis is and in my opinion he’s probably the greatest driver of all time. He’s a seven-times world champion for a reason. So I think I’m in an incredibly fortunate position that I’m able to go in and learn from the best.”
Chat with Lewis Hamilton, first meet in viral photo –
Russell: “We spoke earlier this week over text, he said congratulations and he’s looking forwards to being team mates with me and seeing how I get on and I said likewise. It’s a privilege for me to be lining up alongside him. Obviously all these photos came around on social media of when I was a young boy looking up to Lewis. I’s pretty crazy to see how the times have gone and lining up alongside him next year.
“Recalling that, Lewis turned up to PFI, I think it was at the Formula Kart Stars, I was racing in Comer Cadet at the time. It was like meeting a superhero, when you are a child of that age, especially a racing driver and you meet a Formula 1 driver, you don’t think these people are human. That was a really special moment for me.
“To be honest, I even remember it now, which, it’s quite odd to remember a memory back from when you were 11 years old. So in a way, it feels pretty surreal to be lining up alongside him next year. I guess when I did meet him, that was when I thought I want to be like him, I want to be a Formula 1 driver, and I want to win world championships.”
Russell joining Mercedes, young guns coming through –
Hamilton: “I’ve watched a lot of the racing that he’s done, moves that he’s done. There’s no doubt that he’s incredibly talented. I’ve not looked into detail where he’s weak or… that’s not something I really put much energy towards. I just know he’s going to continue to get stronger even in these next nine races and next year again he’ll be bringing the heat, for sure.
“He’s a part of that younger group, I think the young talent that’s coming through is so great for the sport and it’s the future of the sport. I think new, fresh blood in our team is going to be great, obviously because I’m the oldie there. I think that definitely will energise the whole team, knowing that they have a new youngster coming through who’s super-hungry, driven and will be pushing the team forwards.”
How team can work together and avoid previous troubles –
Hamilton: “I think history has shown that it can and history has shown that it can’t. It’s different in each team ultimately how it’s managed. It’s quite a strange sport where it’s a team sport, but it’s also an individual sport, so you’ve got those two championships. Individually, you want to finish ahead, but at the same time you’ve got to do the job to get the team ahead. So it’s a difficult one to navigate through. But I like to think that we’ve experienced it and learned from it and therefore should be pretty well-set moving forwards.”
Blocking Russell –
Hamilton: “That’s not really my style, I think. Ever since I joined this team, I remember joining in 2013 and I remember saying to Ross Brawn that I just want equal opportunity. That’s the most rewarding position to be in because if you do the work and you do succeed, then you know you’ve done your job against whoever it is at their best. Winning when someone’s wings are clipped, that’s not something that interests me.”
The story was co-written by Neil Farell
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