George Russell: ‘If I have the right car beneath me, I can beat Lewis Hamilton’

Sam Cooper
Fist bump between Lewis Hamilton and George Russell. Spain May 2022

After beating Lewis Hamilton in his first season, George Russell has stated his belief that with the right car beneath him, he can beat any driver on the grid.

The 24-year-old confounded expectations when he outscored the seven-time World Champion in his debut season with Mercedes and became only the third team-mate of Hamilton to score more points than him, along with Nico Rosberg and Jenson Button.

It was Russell’s early form that built a bedrock for his season for while Hamilton struggled with the underperforming W13, Russell had received the perfect training for the situation having spent years at the back of the grid fighting with Williams.

The W13’s troubles appear to have allowed Russell and Hamilton to come together as team-mates after many had expected Russell to challenge Hamilton more than his predecessor Valtteri Bottas had done.

Despite this, Russell said that he always believed with the right car beneath him, he would be able to beat Hamilton and any other driver that Formula 1 currently has to offer.

“I never doubted myself,” he said as per The Race. “I always believed in myself. But if you go with the mindset ‘I’m going to beat Lewis Hamilton 95% of the time’, you’re going to come away disappointed.

“I learned how I need to go about it when he is extraordinarily fast.

“I still need to continue to focus on myself because I still maintain the belief that if I’ve got the car beneath me, and the set-up and the tyres in the right place, working how I want it to work, I can beat him and I can beat anyone else on this grid. And that’s the belief you have to take.”

Even with this belief, Russell felt the pressure when Hamilton was finishing ahead of him but stated that he believes those races were decided by fine margins.

“Equally I look at those races and I think if little things went slightly differently, I could have been ahead,” said Russell. “He outqualified me in Montreal but if I stayed on wets, I probably would have been ahead and then would have finished on the podium.

“It was Austria where I had a small collision with Checo [Sergio Perez], I probably would have been on the podium instead of Lewis there. Silverstone, who knows what could have happened, it was very tight there.

“It was just quite interesting how everything sort of seemed to flow in my direction at the start of the year, then it was probably that mid-phase where sort of things probably flowed more in his direction. Things sort of balanced out a little bit.

“But I look back on those times and I needed them to learn more about myself and see how I can further improve.

“That’s why I’m so happy having Lewis as my team-mate because I feel like I’m at a really strong level, but he’s pushing me to be even better.”

Read more: Franz Tost predicts George Russell will be the Mercedes driver involved in the 2023 title fight