It was confirmed in September 2021 that Russell would take Valtteri Bottas’ seat for 2022 – perhaps the worst kept secret in the paddock.
The media may portray the team as two Britons going up against each other for podium positions, but Russell says it is quite the opposite.
In an interview with Sky Sports F1, Russell said: “You know, Lewis has nothing to prove…the Mercedes philosophy is if you’re at Mercedes, you’re there for a reason.”
It appears Russell has settled into the rhythm of the Mercedes garage quite well, and that no pressure has been applied just yet.
“They’re not there to test you,” he continued. “They are there because they believe in you. That goes beyond me as a driver and it goes for everyone in the team.
“They believe me, I believe in myself, and I believe over time I will get there. So if you look at it like that, there’s no pressure.”
F1 2022. Let’s go. 🔥 pic.twitter.com/o3Veby142d
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) March 18, 2022
Ferrari, meanwhile, have the same driver line-up as last year with Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz.
But both of those drivers are yet to achieve their dream of a World Championship, unlike Hamilton.
Russell said: “I think if you compare it to the likes of the Ferrari line-up, you’ve got two guys of similar age, both fighting for the future of that Ferrari car.
“Charles is obviously an exceptional driver and Carlos is [also] an exceptional driver…they want to be that guy who has that Ferrari for the next 10 years and I don’t think both of them can be.
“So that’s where if there’s to be friction between team-mates, I think that’s where you need to be looking at more.”
Russell’s thoughts could be applied to the likes of other teams too – McLaren, Williams, Haas and AlphaTauri to name a few.
Last year there was particular tension between the two McLaren drivers, Lando Norris and Daniel Riccardo, but the dust settled towards the latter end of the 2021 season.