George Russell has revealed the mental adjustments he made
before beginning the 2022 season with Mercedes, as he came to terms with having
Lewis Hamilton as a teammate.
After three years learning his trade towards the rear of the F1
grid with Williams, Russell made a long-expected move to the Silver Arrows for 2022, replacing
Despite an unfamiliarity with the sharp end of the field, Russell
was a revelation in 2022, outscoring seven-time World Champion teammate Hamilton
and taking his first Grand Prix win in Brazil on his way to fourth place in the
Drivers’ Championship standings.
After comprehensively outperforming his Williams teammates in
each of previous F1 seasons, Russell had expected a tougher fight alongside Hamilton
in 2022, and said he had recalibrated his expectations in anticipation of being
defeated by his teammate.
“I didn’t worry, but I did have to sort of have a sitdown with
myself,” Russell told The Race.
“I was sort of
used to a certain level of outscoring [past teammates], or whatever you want
to call it, but if it’s 55/45 in my favour, even if I lose 45 per cent of the
time, that’s going to still be incredibly successful against Lewis.
psychologically, you need to set yourself up for small failures. I’m not going
to beat him every single session, every qualifying, every race. That’s just
absolutely not going to happen.
“But having a
year like we’ve had this year, is almost equivalent to maybe what the 95/5
split was for me previously.
“I never doubted
myself. I always believed in myself. But if you go with the mindset ‘I’m going
to beat Lewis Hamilton 95 per cent of the time’, you’re going to come away
Russell ready to fight for the title
With Mercedes having won all but one available title from 2014 to 2021, Russell might have expected to be fighting for the championship in 2022.
However, F1’s new technical regulations for 2022 seemed to catch the Silver Arrows out, with the W13 suffering badly with porpoising and bouncing in the early part of the season, and relegated to scrapping for podium finishes as Red Bull and Ferrari instead duelled for victories.
Russell’s Brazil win was Mercedes’ only victory of 2022, but the Briton says he is mentally prepared and experienced enough to challenge for the title if given the machinery to do so.
“Every race I go to, I fight to do the best job possible, whether that is fighting for a victory as we were in Brazil, or fighting for last place as we were at Williams,” said Russell.
“If we do get to the first race next year, and we realise we’ve got a car that’s capable of winning, I’m still going to be approaching it exactly the same.
“I think I’ve got enough experience now that I feel ready to fight for a championship and be able to handle the challenges and difficulties that come with it.
“Obviously, the likes of Lewis and Max [Verstappen] have more experience in that scenario. But if you go out and you put it on pole and win every race, you’ll be World Champion.”