George Russell’s ‘surreal’ feeling of being Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate

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George Russell says it is “surreal” to know next year that he will be the teammate of a pilot whose autograph he cherishes.

As a boy dreaming of becoming a Formula 1 driver himself, Russell waited patiently to secure the “superhero” signature. Lewis hamilton.

At the time, Hamilton had won a world championship. At the start of the 2022 season, he could have a record-breaking eight titles – and will have Russell by his side in the Mercedes team.

When asked what it would be like to be Hamilton’s teammate, Russell told Channel 4: “Surreal really is the word.

“I remember that day very well, while waiting to get his autograph, because when you’re a young kart driver and you see a Formula 1 driver, it’s like a superhero to you.

“And it was so special to see a guy like Lewis, who had already won a championship, who was one of the biggest names in Formula 1 at the time.

“And here we are, 10 years later or more I guess… really surreal.”

“But as you grow up you realize that not everyone in this paddock is superheroes, they are normal people who are incredibly talented.”

Russell again used the word “surreal” to reflect his emotions over getting a racing seat at Mercedes, which has managed his career for the past five years. In the last three of them, he was “on loan” with Williams.

“Certainly the relief and the excitement,” he said, were his overwhelming feelings. “I guess it’s also pretty surreal to be honest because I’ve been with Mercedes for so long.

“I joined in 2016 as a junior driver, then I did the test drives, reserve driving and they helped me on my way to Formula 1 with Williams.

“And even all this time, they’ve been leading me, so they’re really family to me, just like the guys at Williams are too, and I almost feel like I’m coming back to where I started and to come full circle. “

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Russell’s promotion, which came at the expense of Valtteri Bottas, who is leaving the team after five years, claims the career path Mercedes has placed him on on condition that he can show he has the ability to make full use of it.

“We signed a three-year contract with Williams, Mercedes and Toto [Wolff] have always been honest with me, ”added the 23-year-old Briton.

“They said ‘if you perform, the opportunity will present itself’, and that was the case when I raced in Formula 3, GP3, Formula 2.

“If you win in GP3 they said ‘you will do F1 tests and you will race in Formula 2’.

“‘You win Formula 2 and you get a seat in F1, then you spend the three years at Williams and if we think you’ve done a good enough job, luck at Mercedes will be there.’

“So they never let me down in that regard, and it almost took the pressure off me that I could just focus on the race and come out and say ‘as long as I perform well on the track, everything will be fine. for the best ” . “

Russell has driven a Mercedes in competition once, replacing Hamilton in Bahrain last December when only bad luck, none of his own making, denied him a remarkable victory.

“Probably since that Sakhir Grand Prix last year, I said ‘it’s true, I had an amazing opportunity there, it went relatively well, now I can come back to the Williams, just keep driving to the best of my ability and then the opportunity should come at the end of the year, ”he said.

Now that he’s done that, what’s his goal for the rest of 2021?

“Definitely 120% are focused on Williams because we have a job to finish,” he confirmed.

“We are currently 8th in the constructors’ championship which is huge for the team considering we were last for the last three years before that.

“So we absolutely have to seal all of this, and I guess when the flag drops in Abu Dhabi, that’s when the focus will change.

“I’m glad it’s out in the open, it is clear what the future has in store for me and now I can enjoy the rest of the season and finish bright because that’s what the team deserves.”

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