The new Mercedes W14 has made its debut on track with George Russell in the cockpit of the car at Silverstone – and last year's Sao Paulo Grand Prix winner said it felt "great" to be back at the wheel as he weighed up Mercedes's chances for the season ahead.
Russell took his maiden win in Brazil last year amid a relatively torrid season for eight-time champions Mercedes, who struggled for pace relative to Ferrari and Red Bull before clawing back some performance late in the year. The Silver Arrows finished third in the standings – the first time they failed to win the constructors' championship since 2013.
Now, they're looking to return to the top – and Russell said he's as well-prepared as he can be.
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"It’s been a pretty good winter, we’re in a pretty strong place, and probably mentally I feel I’m in a strong as place as I've ever been," he said after taking the W14 on track for a shakedown run at Silverstone, following the car's launch on Wednesday morning.
"I’m in a happy place, I feel good within myself and I feel like I took the necessary time off but equally the necessary time working with the team.
"So far so good, everything ran very smoothly [in the shakedown] and it’s just great to get behind the wheel and see the car in the flesh."
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Russell added that this year's shakedown was far better than that of 2022, when a storm and torrential downpours made for "absolutely crazy" conditions at Silverstone.
"It’s been a smooth day, but it’s just so difficult to say [where we stand]," said Russell. "Last year we came away from that shakedown not with so many thoughts to be honest – we were so compromised by weather – but you’ve got to take the results for today with a pinch of salt and make sure there’s no major scares and just make sure the car’s running OK into Bahrain.
"That’s going to be the true test. As much as we want to get the most out of it, a day like today, it’s kind of meaningless."
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Now in his fifth season of Formula 1, Russell is preparing for his second alongside seven-time champion Hamilton at Mercedes. The 25-year-old said he wanted to "fight" Red Bull and Ferrari for the title – as long as he has the car to do it.
"I’m going into my fifth year of Formula 1, I’ve had three difficult years at the back of the grid, I feel like last year was a good taste, but I feel absolutely ready within myself and the team I’ve got around me to fight," he said.
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"We want to put that fight against Max [Verstappen], I’m sure Ferrari are going to come out of the blocks fast – we want to put that fight against those guys and go for it. This is why I had the dream of becoming an F1 driver and what I’m working towards every single day.
"We’re going to be doing our best to achieve that… I was happy with how we maximised last year in terms of getting the most out of a difficult package, but in terms of outright results of course we weren’t happy so it kind of depends with just the way you’re looking at it," he said.
More on the 2023 F1 car launches
- Why have Ford decided to come back to F1 now – and what does it mean for Red Bull?
- Are the ingredients in place for Ferrari to finally bring title glory back to Maranello?
- A new team boss and a new driver – but can McLaren reclaim top spot in the midfield in 2023?
- Can Alfa Romeo go out on a high in their last year in F1 with Sauber?
- What Aston Martin's AMR23 launch tells us about their long-term plan
- After bouncing back into the points last year, can Haas claw their way up the midfield in 2023?
- After their 2022 tumble, can a refreshed AlphaTauri charge back up the F1 grid this season?
- It’s all change at Williams in 2023 – but can they change their fortunes on track?