In his first Mercedes season, George Russell immediately drove at eye level with record winner Lewis Hamilton. In an interview with auto motor und sport, the 24-year-old talks about the past season, the duel with his team-mate, signing Mick Schumacher as a reserve driver - and he looks ahead to the new year and the new Mercedes.
2022 was not the year of Mercedes. Third in the team championship behind Red Bull and Ferrari. George Russell fourth among the drivers, Lewis Hamilton even sixth. The Silver Arrows celebrated just one pole position, one sprint win and one win in the main race. Russell was responsible for each. "For me, that victory in Brazil was more important than the points classification. At the end of the day, nobody remembers that I beat Lewis on points. I only finished fourth, so no man's land," said Russell.
The 24-year-old Englishman received auto motor und sport for the big interview at the Mercedes factory in Brackley, England. With his precise explanations, Russell is a grateful and entertaining conversation partner. His analyzes are clear – and sometimes razor-sharp. Russell is not one to sugarcoat situations. And he is someone who has big ambitions. "If someone had offered me a win, a pole position and eight podiums a year ago, I would have said: No, thank you. My aspirations and those of the team are much higher than what we have achieved."
Advice for Mick Schumacher
After three years at Williams, Russell moved up to Mercedes in 2022. In his first year in the Silver Arrow, he was on par with Lewis Hamilton. There was no tension between him and the seven-time world champion. Russell and Hamilton worked well together. "Lewis and I, it worked because we know that we can take the team further together than against each other. If there were problems with driver pairings in the past, it was perhaps also because the age difference was smaller and because of the supremacy in the team was fought. We don't have that."
Russell states: "If the good relationship with Lewis were to break down, it would not do the team any good and hurt us over time." Together they want to bring Mercedes back to the top of Formula 1. The opponents are Red Bull and Ferrari. With the new car, the W14, the leap back to the front should succeed. Russell: "We know that we are building a car that will be faster than last year's car. I'm also sure that we will improve compared to last year. But we don't know what everyone else did. And that's the problem. It's a relative game."
Last year's fourth place in the World Championship sees himself ready to take on all the pilots in the field. Russell wants to be champion. "I feel ready to fight for the championship." The big video interview by auto motor und sport is not only about the outlook for 2023, but also about the new substitute Mick Schumacher, to whom Russell advises: "If I were in Mick's shoes, I would be super hard in the simulator here work in Brackley and try everything to integrate well into the team."