George Russell joins Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes
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It would be “pretty stupid” to rule Lewis Hamilton out of this season’s F1 title race – according to the man who’ll partner him at Mercedes next season. Hamilton produced one of his greatest ever drives at last Sunday’s Brazilian Grand Prix, coming from 10th on the grid to take the chequered flag from Max Verstappen.
The result cut the Red Bull driver’s championship lead over Hamilton to 14 points with just three races remaining, the first of which takes place in Qatar this weekend.
The British icon is seeking an eighth world crown, which would see him stand alone as the driver with the most F1 titles in history, a record he currently shares with German legend Michael Schumacher.
The superior pace of Mercedes in Sao Paulo was in stark contrast to their performance in the previous race in Mexico, where Red Bull clearly held the advantage as Verstappen romped to a convincing victory.
However George Russell, who will team up with Hamilton at the ‘Silver Arrows’ next season, said even when his fellow British driver looked up against it, he didn’t doubt his title credentials.
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“I have been saying it for a long, long time when Max and Red Bull seemed to have the upper hand, you would be pretty stupid to bet against Lewis and Mercedes,” he told GP Fans.
“Last weekend has proven that. The fact they are still in this fight is pretty exceptional and what Lewis did last week was also exceptional.”
Russell, 23, will join up with Hamilton and co when he leaves Williams at the end of this season, replacing the outgoing Valtteri Bottas who will drive for Alfa Romeo.
The young star achieved a career highlight at the Belgium Grand Prix in August, qualifying second on the grid, and then when torrential rain meant only two safety-car led laps were possible the following day, he duly notched a first ever podium place.
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Indeed, Russell has been dubbed ‘Mr Saturday’ due to his sterling performances in qualifying throughout 2021, and has vowed not to go to Mercedes to settle for playing second fiddle to seven-time world champion Hamilton.
However, he’s still very much looking forward to the prospect, adding: “Excited to be racing alongside Lewis next year. It will be a great opportunity for me.”
Russell isn’t the only one suggesting momentum is now with the 36-year-old as he hunts down Verstappen. The tracks at Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Abu Dhabi, are thought to favour the straight-line speed of Mercedes.
Norfolk-born Russell though, hopes this weekend’s circuit will also benefit his own team’s performance.
“We do hope this will play slightly more in our favour but nevertheless, we are at a new circuit, new challenges, drivers having to learn and teams having to learn and there will be a lot of unknowns for us all,” he said.
“Just being alive to the situation and making sure you don’t go in with too many preconceived ideas and making sure you are able to adapt will be key to this weekend.”
Russell currently has 16 points to his name this season, while teammate Nicholas Latifi has seven.
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