George Russell has said he will not copy Lewis Hamilton’s traits as he seeks to have his own success in the sport.
Being team-mates with one of only two drivers to have won seven World Championships comes with the added benefit of being able to learn from one of the best to ever compete in the sport – but Russell is eager not to copy Hamilton too closely.
He has started this season in excellent form and perhaps better than even he had expected as he has finished higher than Hamilton in all but two races this season.
Speaking on the Beyond the Grid podcast, Russell highlighted the example of tennis as proof that there is not just one set method for success.
He said: “There are some traits that he [Hamilton] definitely carries that are really intriguing for me and I’m not going to share those now because I’m the only driver on this grid who has the luxury of being team-mates with the greatest driver of all time.
“Prior to this season I was thinking about tennis and watching [Rafa] Nadal win the Australian Open and just seeing how he plays and then thinking about [Roger] Federer and then thinking about [Novak] Djokovic. You’ve got probably the three greatest tennis players of all time, with three totally different approaches to their game.
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“I think to be the best, or to at least be the best version of yourself, you shouldn’t go out there and copy what the best has done because he’s the best because he’s got the best out of himself and whatever he does, works for him.
“But in the world of tennis, who do you copy? Do you copy Nadal? do you copy Federer? Do you copy Djokovic? Obviously, in the world of motorsport, there’s only Lewis for now, but I think that analogy just sort of made me think, well, you just need to do what’s right for you as those three greats in tennis have done.”
Russell also said he had prepared himself for a slow start to the team and was not worried if he was two tenths behind Hamilton.
“I had zero expectations,” he said. “I think I went into a season, truly wanting to focus on myself and I always believed that I’d be able to get to a great potential, once I got a few races under my belt and understood the car and being able to maximise that.
“So I kind of accepted prior to the season that if I’m two tenths behind the greatest driver of all time in the opening few races it is no big deal. If on the same pace, it’s no big deal and if I’m ahead, it’s no big deal because I’m just going to focus on myself and try and get the most out of that.”