George Russell insists there are no team orders at Mercedes, describing the situation as a “level playing field” for he and Lewis Hamilton.
Mercedes are fielding an all-British line-up on the Formula 1 grid this season, with Russell viewed as a long-term prospect at the age of 24 after replacing Valtteri Bottas.
With huge potential but comparatively little experience of racing at the front of the field, following three seasons honing his trade further down the order with Williams, Russell’s status in the team for now could be perceived as being a ‘wingman’ to the seven-time former World Champion.
But the younger of the two compatriots – who finished fourth in the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, one place behind his colleague – maintains he is free to challenge Hamilton on track should an opportunity present itself.
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— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) March 25, 2022
“We are on a level playing field,” Russell told the BBC. “There are no team orders, we have equal treatment totally and they (Mercedes) trust us to go out there and race fairly.”
Regarding his working partnership with Hamilton, Russell said before action got under way at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix: “We have a very open relationship.
“I think because we are at very different stages of our careers there is a really strong mutual respect between us. We both recognise our fight isn’t with each other, as it may be in some other teams.
“For us, we both want to win but at the moment we are not in a position to be able to win, so we need to work together and push in the same direction to make sure our car goes faster.”
How long Mercedes will not be “in a position to be able to win” remains to be seen as they strive to improve the W13, with some performance gains being easier to attain than others.
“At the moment, we know if we do absolutely everything perfectly we still don’t have the pace in the car to fight with the Red Bull and Ferrari,” said Russell, with Mercedes only having finished as high as third and fourth in Bahrain due to the late retirements of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez.
“We don’t really know what our timeline is. We are working as hard as possible to resolve our issues, but the only way we will find out if we will resolve them is when we jump on the track.
“I trust in my team and if anyone can overcome these issues, I’m sure Mercedes can.”
Planet F1 Verdict
Russell adamant there’s equal treatment at Mercedes
George Russell has stated that there is equal treatment at Mercedes.