Russell reveals his mindset when he became Hamilton’s team-mate

© Steve Etherington for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

George Russell says when he joined Mercedes he was thinking: “If I don’t perform, and I go and get my a** kicked by the greatest driver of all time, what does it mean?”

George Russell joined Mercedes in 2022, after three years with Williams. Of course, joining the eight-time consecutive constructors’ champions was a big deal, as he revealed on F1’s Beyond the Grid podcast.

“Signing a piece of paper to join the greatest team of this era, without doubt, is obviously a huge moment,” Russell said.

“But if I don’t perform, and I go and get my a** kicked by the greatest driver of all time, what does it mean? Because I’ll probably be out the door.

“It was a huge moment, it was a huge step on my ladder, but it’s sort of like the image of the guy climbing the mountain; he thinks he’s at the top and then he looks up and the peak’s miles away, and then you get there, and there’s another peak.

“That’s kind of the way I looked at it. There’s a lot to be to celebrate for a moment like that, but I want to be a World Champion, and I want to win races, and signing that contract didn’t guarantee anything.”

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As for his targets heading into his first season as the team-mate of the most successful Formula 1 driver of all time, Russell said:

“I don’t know. I had zero expectations. I went into the season truly wanting to focus on myself and I always believed that I’d be able to get to a great potential, once I got a few races under my belt and understood the car, and being able to maximise that.

“I kind of accepted prior to the season, if I’m two-tenths behind the greatest driver of all time in the opening few races, it’s no big deal. If I’m on the same pace, it’s no big deal, and if I’m ahead, it’s no big deal.

“I’m just going to focus on myself and try and get the most out of that, and I think it’s been a relatively good start to the season,” the Briton concluded.

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