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George Russell has admitted his pride at finishing ahead of Lewis Hamilton in this year’s Formula 1 Driver’s standings. The 25-year-old joined the Silver Arrows to partner the seven-time champion in 2022, completing an exciting all-British lineup, and has impressed at various stages of the season.
But things did not go according to plan for Mercedes as they struggled with porpoising and the new regulations throughout the campaign. Toto Wolff’s men only managed one win this season, and it was achieved by Russell who secured his first F1 victory in the process in Brazil.
He went on to finish two places and 35 points ahead of Hamilton in the drivers’ standings, something which fills him with immense pride. “If I had been told that at the beginning of the season, I would have been incredibly proud and happy,” he said.
“After all, nine times out of ten, when you finish ahead of Lewis Hamilton, you probably become world champion.” However, team boss Wolff insists that Russell beating 37-year-old Hamilton this year is “irrelevant”.
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“They were not racing for a world championship,” he added. “They haven’t raced for victories apart from Brazil. “I don’t think for any of the team it matters whether they finish second, third, fourth or fifth.”
Despite the difficult season after years of dominance, Wolff claimed their struggles this year were easier for Hamilton and the team as a whole to cope with than last year, for one reason. “Last year was much worse,” he said.
“Last year it was taken away from us. This year we lost it on merit. We just weren’t good enough.” Wolff admitted his team got it wrong this year, but they have taken the positives from a less than ideal situation as they remain more fired up than ever headed into next season.
“I’m not sure at all whether we can bounce back to a position where we can compete for the championship next year,” he said. “You need to acknowledge that the competition is strong but we will do everything in our power to set our objectives high and try to reach them.”
He added: “We are analysing what were the reasons in the past that teams that dominate over an era suddenly lost performance. You can trace it back quite well, a change of regulations, people leaving, a tyre changing fundamentally.
“We have the same organisation, the same capability and the same financial funding. The regulations changed, we got it wrong but all the other pillars are still in place. I am 100% sure that this was a difficult year that was necessary for us to re-motivate and re-energise the organisation. We won eight times in a row, more than 100 race wins. This has made us come back down to the ground to make us appreciate how it feels when you win, as in Brazil. In a few years we will be looking back and saying that was absolutely necessary.”
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