George Russell said it was a remarkably quick process to agree his new Mercedes contract, the team he has shared such a long association with it is “like we’re married”.
At the same time Mercedes finally announced a new two-year contract for Lewis Hamilton, Russell was also confirmed to have signed fresh terms, both Mercedes drivers now tied down until the end of the 2025 campaign.
It is safe to say Russell’s contract status felt like a far less drawn-out affair compared to Hamilton’s from the outside, and indeed Russell confirmed that it did not take long to strike a deal at all.
Additional reporting by Thomas Maher
George Russell declares ‘this is just the beginning’
Russell has been with Mercedes since he was 17, the Brit having risen through the Formula 3 and Formula 2 ranks into F1 with Mercedes backing, spending three seasons at Williams before joining the Mercedes line-up for 2022.
And with Mercedes boss Toto Wolff having delivered on every promise of progression so far, Russell said it was “never in doubt” that he would extend his deal with the team.
“It was a very quick process,” he told media including PlanetF1.com. “I don’t think it took more than two hours worth of conversations.
“Just one evening, before dinner, so it was pretty straightforward, never in doubt, either way.
“So it was never really a concern for me, because it always kind of feels like we’re married to one another, with being part of his team since I was 17 years old.
“As a driver in Formula 3, Toto made it very clear, win F3, you’ll get to F2, win F2, you’ll get a drive in F1. Do the job with Williams, and you’re in a Mercedes. And if you’re in a Mercedes, you’ve got a good chance of winning the championship. So it was pretty straightforward in that regard.
“But I think that consistency is so important to build upon and we’re in that cycle at the moment of getting back to the top.
“So really proud to continue with the team and this is just the beginning.”
For Russell the ultimate goal is to rise to title glory with Mercedes, but right now such an achievement feels very far away as Red Bull continue to march through F1 2023 undefeated, all while Mercedes, Aston Martin, Ferrari and McLaren are scrapping over the ‘best of the rest’ P2 spot.
Russell does take hope from the likes of McLaren, Aston Martin and former team Williams making major gains, crediting the sliding scale on allotted windtunnel time for playing a role in that, with a team getting more time the further down the standings they finish.
But at the same time, Russell says such performance surges mean it is impossible to say whether, in the next two seasons, Mercedes can deliver on their ambition of returning to the title fight.
Asked to offer a two-year projection for Mercedes in the pursuit of Red Bull, Russell replied: “I think a projection is impossible to say, because nobody would have projected the jump Aston Martin made over the winter, nobody would have projected McLaren to be second or third-fastest car after their first five races.
“So what’s most important is we continue to look in the mirror, where we can improve, I think the aero handicap, it’s no surprise to see a team like Williams making good progress with their development with having so much more time in the windtunnel.
“So I hope all of these factors, and of course, the brilliance we’ve got within our team, the goal is of course to be fighting for a World Championship next year, but we’re not going to sit here, hand on hearts, saying that’s what we’re going to be able to achieve, because we don’t know what the others can do.”
Mercedes are in pole position to secure that P2 spot in the F1 2023 Constructors’ Championship, their buffer over Aston Martin a position behind standing at 40 points.