F1: George Russell hikes during the off-season
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George Russell has praised Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton as “the greatest driver” of all time and says he relishes the prospect of racing wheel to wheel with the seven-time world champion if he’s in a more competitive car next season.
Hamilton confirmed he’d be staying at Mercedes for a further two years during the Austrian Grand Prix two weeks ago, as Max Verstappen extended his lead by 32 points with victory at the Red Bull Ring.
Russell, meanwhile, is still waiting to hear more on his future with the seven-time world champions, after boss Toto Wolff refused to rule out the Briton as an option alongside Hamilton for 2022, replacing Valtteri Bottas.
However, the 23-year-old, who is a free agent come the end of the year, admitted it would be a difficult task to measure himself up against a driver like Hamilton, were he in a more competitive car than the Williams next season.
“It’s always difficult to compare against guys in different teams, as we know, the cars are so dominant,” Russell exclusively told Express Sport.
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“Obviously, the drivers are so important, but the cars are the biggest factor in terms of performance at the moment, and hopefully next year, all of the teams, all the cars will be much closer together, I guess it’s all relative, really.
“Lewis is still going to be on the top of his game, and is still doing an excellent job.
“Everybody knows also how Red Bull have a fantastic car at the moment.
“You want to be racing against the best drivers in the world, and that’s what makes Formula One what it is.
“And Lewis is without a doubt, you know, obviously probably the greatest of all time and still is going incredibly strong.
“If Lewis wasn’t on the grid, we’d be missing out on one of the best drivers of it. So it’s just great to have him stay in for another couple of years.”
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Russell impressed on his debut for Mercedes last season, as he stepped in for Hamilton at the Sakhir Grand Prix after the seven-time world champion contracted COVID-19 ahead of the race.
The Mercedes junior driver very nearly won the race ahead of Bottas at the time, were it not for a poor pitstop from the team and a puncture, which left the Briton down in P9 come the chequered flag.
“I guess for me first, I just want the opportunity to be fighting in front of the grid and show what I can do,” Russell added, speaking to Express Sport.
“It’s been obviously tough, being at the back of the grid for the past couple of years and working my socks off with the Williams team to try and push the team forward.
“Obviously, I’m here to win and I want to win.
“So I just want to give myself the best possible chance to do that next year.”
The British Grand Prix gets underway at 3pm on Sunday, with the all-new Sprint qualifying taking place at 6pm on Saturday.
The results from the 17-lap race on Saturday will determine the grid ahead of the main event at Silverstone.
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