George Russell explains running joke that Lewis Hamilton ‘saved my career’

Lewis Hamilton and George Russell talking into microphones. Silverstone July 2022.

Lewis Hamilton and George Russell talking into microphones at the British Grand Prix. Silverstone July 2022.

George Russell has joked that Lewis Hamilton has ‘saved his career’ by staying on to race beside him as his Mercedes team-mate.

Hamilton and Russell paired up as Mercedes team-mates for the first time in 2022, with Russell moving up from Williams after three years with the Grove-based squad.

Taking to life near the front of the field with aplomb, Russell kicked off his Mercedes career with nine consecutive top-five finishes as well as taking the team’s sole victory of the year by leading home a 1-2 in Brazil.

Having compared favourably alongside seven-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton, Russell was pleased his illustrious team-mate had chosen to stay on in Formula 1 after the uncertainty of his future following the controversial end to the 2021 World Championship.

Hamilton now looks set to go on racing in F1 for at least another few seasons, with Russell saying he’s not surprised the British racer has the hunger to keep going as he closes in on his forties.

“When you see the level he’s performing at, he looks young, he’s fit, he’s in shape. He’s enjoying racing,” Russell told GPFans.

“He’s also enjoying this journey that we’re on as a team to bring Mercedes back to the front.

“I’ve got a lot to thank him for because had Lewis not been my team-mate this year, people would’ve thought very differently about me this year.

“I joke with him that he probably saved my career by staying on in Formula 1 this year because had he retired, and I had the exact same year as I’ve done this year, I’m sure perception would’ve been drastically different.”

Speaking about how the relationship with Russell developed over the course of 2023 as they adjusted to life as team-mates, Hamilton said the adjustment after several years with Valtteri Bottas had been harmonious.

“I think it’s been smooth and there has been a lot of growth,” he said.

“I have worked with many drivers before, so it was perhaps more normal for me but for him, it was probably more of an adjustment because he was new to the team and it was the first time we had worked together properly.

“He’s been great to work with, pushing the car forwards technically and set-up wise. It’s been a good first year as team-mates.”

Read more: Mercedes’ strategy boss praises George Russell’s ‘incredibly good job’ in 2022