The Mercedes ‘rookie’ was better than the multiple champion Formula 1 veteran in his first year and so Russell reveals what was the “key factor” against Lewis Hamilton in 2022. After numerous successes in the last decade, the past Formula One season was rather a season to forget for Mercedes. Neither the drivers’ title nor the constructors’ championship went to the German carmaker’s racing team.
Indeed, Mercedes driver George Russell has revealed how he was able to outperform his teammate, seven-time Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton, in his very first season with the Silver Arrows.
For Mercedes, there were also some positive aspects. Silver Arrow rookie George Russell took his first victory in the top flight at the Brazilian Grand Prix – at the same time the only one for Mercedes in 2022.
In addition, the young British driver impressed his experienced compatriot Lewis Hamilton and finished fourth in the drivers’ standings on 275 points, a full two places ahead of the seven-time champion (240 points). In the first 16 races, Russell finished within the top five no less than 15 times – a remarkable achievement in view of the weaknesses that the 2022 Mercedes car showed, especially at the beginning of the season.
But it was precisely these problems that Mercedes had with the car that suited Russell in the intra-team battle with Hamilton:
“I think the most important key factor was that I had to deal with a car that was very, very difficult to drive for the last three years,” the 24-year-old looked back on his experience gained at the underperforming Williams team, which now surprisingly helped him.
Perversely he says that “The car I got at Mercedes in 2022 was actually better than anything I drove in the years before.”
Mercedes W13 a “step backwards” for Hamilton
For Hamilton, however, the starting position looked very different, which obviously made it difficult for the veteran as the rookie reveals.
“He had always had a car that could win the world championship for eight years before, so his definition of a good car was quite different to mine,” explained the Mercedes driver, who will start his second year with the Silver Arrows next month.
So for Hamilton, the W13 was “a big step backwards”, while this one was “a step forward for me. That’s why I felt much more comfortable with the car,” Russell said. That’s why he was able to adapt to the characteristics of the W13 faster and better.
It was only later in the season that Mercedes was able to eliminate the car’s biggest weaknesses – above all the car’s bouncing on the straights – so that Hamilton also found his way around better and finished three of the last four Grands Prix in second place.