At some point in the next few weeks, the increasing likelihood is that Russell will be named as a Mercedes driver for 2022 in an all-British line-up alongside Hamilton, replacing Valtteri Bottas.
It would represent a significant step up for the 23-year-old from Williams where he has spent the last three seasons, yet to score a point at the team with which he is ‘on loan’ from Mercedes – although Russell has frequently shown his talent with some impressing qualifying performances.
During that time, Russell has had to watch on while his rivals from junior days have bagged numerous podium finishes and even victories – and he believes it is time he cut himself a slice of the pie.
Just as importantly, however, he wants to go up against Hamilton and learn from his compatriot whom he considers to have no Formula 1 equal.
“I think having the opportunity to be team-mates with a guy like Lewis would be amazing because in my opinion Lewis is the best of the best,” said Russell during an interview with RTL.
“There’s no arguing his stats are definitely the greatest of all time and if you want to be the best, going against the best is the only way.
“I’m sure any driver would learn so much from a guy like Lewis with all of his experience and the mutual respect he has with many people, especially us, towards him.
“I’ve battled with Max [Verstappen], Charles [Leclerc], Esteban [Ocon], all of these guys, Lando [Norris] as well, in my whole junior career. All of these younger guys I’ve battled with for the last 10 years. The only one that would be new would be obviously Lewis because he’s obviously one of the greats.
“He’s a great guy, a fantastic driver and I want to be battling with the best and that’s Lewis, that’s Max, that’s Charles, there are many guys at the front of the grid.”
To Budapest we go ✌️🇭🇺 pic.twitter.com/z7bG5HlkzC
— George Russell (@GeorgeRussell63) July 28, 2021
Russell feels he has served his time down the order and is now “ready” for a much more competitive car, having stood in for Hamilton at last year’s Sakhir Grand Prix when the seven-time World Champion contracted COVID-19.
“Every single race you do, you’re more experienced, more prepared,” said Russell. “Right now I feel ready, I feel confident in my ability. I’ve missed the excitement and pressure of racing at the front and that’s what I’ve lived off.
“I think for me, racing in 2019 with no pressure was such a strange feeling because I was completely on my own with Robert [Kubica] my team-mate at the time, and the last two years I’ve had a small feeling of the pressure, which is what I love.
“As I had at Silverstone recently, this high-pressure situation is what I thrive on and Bahrain last year as well, when I drove for Mercedes.
“I feel like I perform better in these situations and I want to find myself in that position again because I feel ready to be fighting the guys I’ve fought my whole career.”