George Russell joins Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes
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Mercedes’ new signing George Russell has praised his soon-to-be new bosses after giving the 23-year-old the opportunity to step up to the top team alongside Lewis Hamilton, adding he’s pleased they’re not “reckless and ruthless” like rivals Red Bull.
Russell has been alongside Mercedes since 2015, and has since gone on to win the GP3 title in 2017, the F2 title the year after, before being promoted to F1 in 2019 with the British team Williams.
Since then he has impressed in his three years at the Mercedes-powered team in an underperforming car, sending ripples through the paddock when he stepped in for a Covid-stricken Hamilton at the end of last season.
Now he will partner Hamilton next season, replacing Valtteri Bottas at the team in his biggest challenge yet in Formula One.
But by contrast, his friend and former karting team-mate Alex Albon was dropped from Red Bull’s main seat alongside Max Verstappen in just his second year in F1, and despite now being handed a second chance at Williams next season, has spent a year on the sidelines.
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“I think I’ve been really happy with how Mercedes has given me this opportunity to go out there and learn,” the 23-year-old said in an interview with ESPN.
“Obviously, the way Red Bull do things is pretty reckless and ruthless at times, and that’s why I’m so grateful that I have had this opportunity to go out there and learn, build and develop.
“Every driver dreams of getting into Formula One and winning races from day one, but equally when you are going up against the best in the business, it sometimes doesn’t happen like that.
“I feel in such a stronger place right now that, even if I jump in and I’m a bit off the pace, I feel strong enough mentally to not let that affect me. I know I’ll get there.
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“When I will get there, I don’t know yet, but I think I’m mature enough and old enough now to deal with that, whereas one or two years ago I probably wouldn’t have been.”
Russell will be alongside the seven-time world champion next season as F1 will undergo a huge overhaul as the new 2022 rules and regulations come into play.
And for Russell, he praised Mercedes boss Toto Wolff for entrusting him with the seat and mentoring him throughout the years.
“Toto has always been there [for me in my career],” he added. “He’s always a phone call away to talk to and he has always given me really good advice and pushed me and been hard on me in certain moments, but patted me on the back when the result has been good.
“As a team they have been so great to me, which is why now I feel so appreciative of the opportunity and why I am going to go that extra mile to try and repay me for the faith they put in me over these past few years.”
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