Mercedes managed to retain its constructors’ championship title at the end of the 2021 season, but the team witnessed significant pressure from Red Bull for the entirety of the campaign.
Lewis Hamilton, who was tipped to win a record eighth world championship, fell at the final hurdle against Max Verstappen in one of the most epic title battles in recent times. The British driver has a new teammate this year in fellow countryman George Russell.
Having replaced Valtteri Bottas at the end of the 2021 season, the Silver Arrows are hopeful newcomer Russell delivers on the promise he showed while deputising for Hamilton in Sakhir back in 2020.
It will undoubtedly present a big challenge to a driver who has been billed as a generational talent.
After seeing the new Mercedes challenger for the first time, Russell offered his first impression.
“The first impressions of the W13 have been interesting,” Russell said.
“It is a very different car to the previous era and the characteristics of how the downforce is produced is completely different so we are still learning as we are going.”
Russell went on to explain that the car still needed a significant amount of improvements before it is ready for the season opener.
“There are still a huge amount of improvements to be made to bring everything together to make it as nice as possible to drive, which I foresee a lot of people being in the same boat because we are just learning so much day after day, whether it is in the wind tunnel or in the simulator,” he said.
“I think it is going to be a year of development. Everybody will want to go into the first race with the fastest car possible but what will be more important is understanding what your limitations are and how you are going to improve from those limitations to build the best foundations possible.”
Why is Russell important for Mercedes?
The future of Hamilton has been in the air ever since the Abu Dhabi season finale, with the seven-time world champion staying away from social media and avoiding interviews since then.
Although he recently returned and has been part of Mercedes’ promotions heading into the new season, he only has a limited time span left in the sport.
Well into his 30s, Hamilton is unlikely to stick around in the sport for a long period. he has spoken about his interest in other industries such as fashion and music in the past.
Many believe that he will call it quits the moment he wins title number 8.
That makes Russell’s role all the more important. Mercedes is, after all, looking to groom another world champion.
In terms of potential, Russell seems to have it all. He has spent three years at Williams where he has been able to acclimatise to the pace of the sport and hone his skills as a driver.
While the Silver Arrows may not expect immediate results from the youngster, they will undoubtedly have big plans for him going ahead.
Do you believe Russell will be impressive in his first season at Mercedes? Let us know in the comments!