George Russell admits ‘interesting’ first impressions of Mercedes’ W13 title-challenger ahead of the 2022 Formula 1 season


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George Russell will make his full-time Mercedes debut in 2022 partnering up the refreshed 2021 runner-up Lewis Hamilton.

The ex-Williams driver made one appearance for the Brackley-based outfit at the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix and would have stood on the top step of the podium if it was not for an unfortunate pit stop blunder.

Russell enjoyed a positive 2021 season, in which he broke his points-scoring duck at the chaotic Hungarian Grand Prix along with his teammate Nicholas Latifi.

Four weeks later, at a very soggy Spa-Francorchamps, the Brit stood on the podium for the first time after his bold qualifying performance saw him take second place behind the Safety Car as the race was curtailed due to the downpour.

The then-Williams driver went on to clinch two more points-scoring finishes at the Italian Grand Prix and Russian Grand Prix after it was announced that he would be making the step up to the Mercedes team for 2022.

The Mercedes W13 car will be unveiled on Friday, however, similarly to Red Bull, they are expected to unveil their livery on a ‘demo’ car, unlike Aston Marin and AlphaTauri.

In his first interview as a Mercedes driver, Russell spoke about the interesting changes which have been made for this season.

“The first impressions of the W13 have been interesting,” said the 24-year-old.

“It is a very different car to the previous era and how the characteristics of how the downforce is produced is completely different.”

The sport’s hierarchy introduced a number of new regulation changes for 2021, however, these were pushed back a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Changes include sizing up the 13-inch wheel rims to covered 18-inches, simplified aerodynamic packages as well as a complete change in the shape of the car in an attempt to improve on-track racing.

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Russell also mentioned that 2022 is going to be a ‘year of development’ for all teams on the grid.

“We’re still learning as we are going, there’s still a huge amount of improvements to be made to bring everything together to make it as nice as possible to drive.

“I foresee a lot of people being in the same boat because we’re learning so much day after day whether it is in the wind-tunnel or in the simulator.

“I think it is going to be a year of development,” Russell added.

“I think everybody wants to go to the first race and have the fastest car possible.

“What will be more important is understanding what your limitations are and how you are going to improve from those limitations to build yourself the best foundation possible.”

The Mercedes new-boy is tipped to stand on the top step of the rostrum this season and to challenge Hamilton and McLaren’s Lando Norris to be Britain’s top dog.

Russell did predict that the 2022 title fight could be a five-way battle. He also added that the controversial ending to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix lit a motivational fire’ inside the team.

However, one worry that Russell may have is that he could potentially be forced to play second fiddle to Hamilton, a problem that Valtteri Bottas faced after he made the same move for the 2017 season. With that in mind, the 24-year-old will hope to hit the ground running in his silver arrow to prevent this from being the case.

Whilst the relative pace of the new AMG car is unknown as only four teams have completed shakedown tests, the German-powered team will hope they can challenge for their ninth constructors’ title in as many years and their bid could be bolstered with their latest recruit.

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