George Russell makes ominous statement as hungry teams look to shake Mercedes debut

Mercedes boss hopes ‘robbed’ Lewis Hamilton will continue racing

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George Russell admits there is no room for error ahead of the upcoming season, with plenty of competition threatening to put a dampener on his Mercedes debut in 2022 as the Briton makes the step up from Williams. Partnering with Lewis Hamilton at the Silver Arrows, Russell will partake in his first full season with Mercedes, despite having a taste of the experience at the end of the 2020 campaign at the Sakhir Grand Prix.

Russell impressed whilst stepping in for the Covid-stricken Hamilton in Bahrain, and very nearly won on his debut had it not been for a poor pit-stop and a puncture.

The 23-year-old then went on to have a strong season with Williams in 2021, scoring his first points for the team in Hungary.

Meanwhile, Mercedes were heavily challenged by Red Bull, with Max Verstappen beating the seven-time world champion to the title.

Despite winning the Constructors’ Championship, Russell believes there could be various other teams that could cause an upset.

“A team like Ferrari, who have been through a difficult period over the last two years, are going to be so hungry, especially with the new rule changes, to come back fighting,” Russell said.

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“Similar with McLaren as well. These teams have got the infrastructure, they’ve got the talent within the engineering departments, within the drivers as well, to really, really fight.”

Russell has been linked with Mercedes ever since 2014 after winning the BRDC British Formula 4 championship.

The young Briton reached out to Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, who promptly took him under his wing, as he then went on to win both the GP3 and Formula 2 titles.

Wolff then oversaw his move to Williams, as the Mercedes junior driver spent three years at the Oxford-based team before being promoted to the top.

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Looking ahead to his first full season with the eight-time world champions, Russell added: “I truly believe there are probably five teams all capable of really doing something special next year, so you’ve got to be absolutely on it.

“I think the development is going to be so key next year. It’s not going to be whoever has the fastest race, or Barcelona test, or Bahrain race.

“It’s whoever manages to understand their car well, and can develop and build from those foundations throughout the year, and I think all of the teams are going to make big progress from race one to the end of the season.”

Russell will get his second taste of the new Mercedes car when pre-season testing gets underway on February 23 before the Bahrain Grand Prix season opener on March 20.

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