George Russell: I'll only be wingman to Hamilton if I don't perform
George Russell would be “disappointed” if he found himself demoted to a wingman role in Lewis Hamilton’s championship fight.
Not because Mercedes would have let him down, but because it would mean he hasn’t performed.
Joining Mercedes for the 2022 championship, Russell is adamant he’ll have the same opportunities as his seven-time World Champion team-mate, Hamilton.
Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff backed that up when he insisted that Mercedes “never had a situation where [it was] one and two; they had equal opportunities and the same car”.
But while that may have be the case at the start of the season, it hasn’t always continue that way as Valtteri Bottas, called a “sensational wingman” by Wolff, can attest to.
However, Russell says if the time ever comes that he’s Hamilton’s wingman, he’ll have only himself to blame.
“If I perform,” he told PA Sport, “I will not ever be in that position.
“I would be disappointed if I found myself in that scenario because it means I have not done the job.
“And if anybody finds themselves in that position, they cannot be upset or disappointed with anyone else because they are there for one reason, and that is because they have not performed.”
But with no clear number one and two on the track, Mercedes face the prospect of another Hamilton versus Nico Rosberg situation.
Tensions boiled over when they were team-mates so much so that they went from boyhood friends to never speaking to one another.
“I don’t think it will become like that, regardless of performance,” said Russell.
“We are different stages in our career and Lewis has nothing to prove. He truly wants to see me succeed and to help me.”
The Briton is looking forward to the opportunity to learn from arguably Formula 1’s greatest ever driver.
“It is incredibly exciting and I find myself in a win-win scenario,” the 24-year-old added.
“I am going up against the greatest of all time who has beaten everybody and I can only learn from him.
“Equally it can only be beneficial in the long run but the short-term, too.
“Now is the best time to have this opportunity because we are starting afresh with new cars.
“I would have loved to have had the chance last year but I know if somebody joined me at Williams they would have struggled because I knew the car and how to get the most out of the tyres.
“I was ingrained in that team, that car, and that philosophy as Lewis has been so ingrained in this team. Last year was a constant evolution but now is a complete fresh start and a good opportunity.”
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