F1: George Russell says Mercedes will be strong ‘from race one’ in 2023

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Mercedes driver George Russell expects the team to be “in a much stronger position from the first race” in the 2023 Formula One world championship.

The 24-year-old from Norfolk took the only win this year for Mercedes at penultimate race in Sao Paulo.

Russell finished fourth in the drivers’ standings, two places and 35 points clear of team-mate Lewis Hamilton.

“They haven’t forgotten how to build a fast race car,” Russell said. “We just got it wrong this year.”

He told BBC Radio Norfolk: “We got the philosophy wrong. We took a path that turned out to be wrong.

“Sometimes it takes you a long time to dig yourself out of that hole. Now I feel like we’ve dug ourselves out of that hole and are building on it.

“We are a step behind Red Bull and Ferrari and we have a lot of catching up to do, but next year we will definitely have a much stronger position from the first race than this year.”

“With Mercedes, you expect victories”

“Mercedes” has won the Formula 1 constructors’ championship eight times

Russell, born in King’s Lynn, joined Mercedes for the 2022 season, replacing Valtteri Bottas, who began his Formula 1 career at Williams.

And he went on to finish on the podium seven more times, as well as taking his first win, despite the team not being able to match the pace of Red Bull and Ferrari for most of the season.

“When you join a team like Mercedes, you expect to win. I felt ready to challenge for race wins and championships this year, but you just have to manage your expectations,” Russell said.

“You have to change those attitudes a little bit, and this year it was really interesting for me to see how the team would handle that situation.

“I am here for a long time, and despite the fact that I wanted victories and [боротися] for that championship in 2022, as a team, this fight will set us up for years to come.

“Hopefully I’ll look back in 10 years and say the 2022 season was a positive on the road.”

Despite beating seven-time world champion Hamilton, whose five second-place finishes were his best results of the campaign, Russell is aware that he needs to continue to “raise the bar” in terms of his own performance and contribution to the team.

“If you had told me at the start of the year that I would finish ahead of Lewis Hamilton [в заліку пілотів]I would be very happy because nine times out of 10 it probably means you will become world champion,” he said.

“It’s a bit disappointing that this year was not the right year. We both fought for P4, P5, P6 and we don’t want to be in that position, so I’m not going to leave this season with I’m very proud that I finished fourth in the championship. I’m here to win.”

“Lewis is the best of all time”

George Russell and Lewis Hamilton
George Russell and Lewis Hamilton both began their racing careers in go-karts

Russell’s victory in Brazil was achieved by holding off Hamilton for the final 10 laps after the team told them they were allowed to race.

Despite this, he insists they have built a good relationship over the course of the season.

“Any time you join a new team, no matter who your partner is, it takes some time to settle in and gain trust and confidence throughout the organization,” he said.

“Being a teammate with him has been a good journey for me. He’s the greatest of all time, so I’m in a very privileged position to go directly with him and learn from him.”

He added: “I am very excited about 2023. I will still try to improve my driving, what I do on and off the track, and hopefully we have a car that is below us to fight for the championship.”

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