George Russell has insisted he is “not satisfied” with merely matching Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton after the “toughest” season of his career in F1 2023.
Russell impressed in his first year as a Mercedes driver in 2022, claiming the team’s only victory of the campaign in Brazil as Hamilton suffered the first winless season of his career.
Hamilton hit back hard in 2023, however, outscoring his younger team-mate by 59 points with Russell restricted to just two podium finishes in Spain, from 12th on the grid, and Abu Dhabi.
George Russell not giving up in Lewis Hamilton battle
Speaking to Motor Sport Magazine, Russell acknowledged that he did not cover himself in glory in 2023 – but has warned that he is looking to strike back.
He said: “No doubt, it’s been probably the toughest season I’ve ever had psychologically. Bouncing back from missed opportunities, missed results, mistakes. I think this is when you push yourself.
“I could comfortably lift my foot off the gas pedal and drive a per cent below the limit and I could sit here right now and tell you that I wouldn’t make a single mistake.
“And probably when I sit through my Championship years, I probably wasn’t being pushed as much as I’m pushing myself now.
“I’m purposely trying to push myself further and beyond, and I’m not satisfied with just being on par with my team-mate in qualifying or whatever it may be.
“Or [2022 when] we were very even across the whole season. I want to be ahead. And that’s what I’m pushing myself for.”
Mercedes technical director James Allison recently outlined his hope that the team can be in with “a shout” of winning both the Drivers’ and Constructors’ titles in 2024 after putting together a “pretty ambitious” program for the new W15 car.
“‘I don’t know,’ is the answer to that,” Allison responded when asked if Mercedes can return to winning ways in 2024.
“I hope that we have put in place enough of a program of work that we have put ourselves in with a shout to be back to [competitiveness].
“[When you say] ‘winning ways’, does that mean winning a race? Does that mean winning a Championship?
“In my head, it’s only ever about Championships. That’s what Formula 1 is: it’s a Constructors’ and a Drivers’ Championship.
“I hope that we have done enough to give ourselves a shout of being in a Championship fight in both Championships.
“If you look at the long march of F1 history, then the stats are against us. Teams do not bounce back from slipping from their previous peak in the length of time that we have set ourselves.
“But we have nevertheless set a pretty ambitious program. We have quite a lot of strength in depth here and we’ve made quite a lot of progress with next year’s car.
“Whether it proves sufficient or not, only time will tell, but that’s what I’m hoping for us and I know that all my colleagues and team-mates around me will be hoping for the same.”