Russell says a 'motivational fire' has ignited within Mercedes for 2022
After losing out on the drivers' title in the most dramatic of circumstances, it would come as no surprise to hear that Mercedes are spurred on by what George Russell has called a “motivational fire” in his first interview with the squad since joining them full-time.
Russell, the first Mercedes Junior to graduate to a full-time race seat with the works team, is entering his fourth season in the sport. Long seen as Mercedes’ future star, he impressed in his first three seasons in F1 with Williams and made a huge case for his promotion with a standout performance at the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix, when he stood in for Lewis Hamilton.
In his first interview as a full-time Mercedes works driver, he explained just how adamant Mercedes are to win both championships in 2022.
“Following the conclusion of last year, there is so much motivational fire within the whole factory to bounce back and that is incredible for me to see,” said Russell.
“We just went straight into business on the important bits and bobs to understand the new car, to understand the challenges and to try and prepare as best as possible for the season ahead.
“I've spent plenty of days in the factory with the engineers, going through a lot of presentations on what the car looks like and obviously in the simulator, getting to grips with the new car, understanding the limitations and trying to direct the development and where we need to improve.”
Despite having spent three seasons plying his trade for Williams, Russell has found settling in easy as he gets to work with some familiar faces – having been appointed Mercedes’ official reserve driver back in his 2018 F2-winning season.
“Because I spent so much time with the team prior to joining Williams in Formula 1, as a junior driver I feel like I know everybody so well already,” said Russell.
“In a way it feels like returning home to people I have known for such a long time and getting up to speed with how the team operates again, which is something I have really enjoyed.”
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Russell’s move back to Mercedes has coincided with the massive technical regulation changes and the one-time podium-sitter said he viewed this as a bonus.
“I see moving teams during this regulation change as a positive in all honesty because we have a completely different car, which is a completely different philosophy to previously different tyres, working with new engineers and I think starting from a completely fresh sheet of paper is beneficial for all.”
“I think if I stayed at Williams for this season, there are always things that you have at the back of your mind you learnt on a previous era of cars that will always subconsciously carry through into the future, whereas if you are truly starting from a fresh slate, it can only be beneficial this year.”
Mercedes will unveil their 2022 F1 car, the W13, on February 18 – as Russell partners seven-time champion Hamilton in what is set to be the longest F1 season ever. The pair will be aiming to win a record ninth consecutive constructors' championship, and to regain the drivers' title.