George Russell says he is relieved Lewis Hamilton is still racing in Formula 1.
After his controversial 2021 title defeat to Max Verstappen, it seemed possible for quite some time that seven time world champion Hamilton would quit.
When Hamilton, 38, resurfaced for the 2022 season, his preferred teammate Valtteri Bottas had been replaced by 25-year-old Briton George Russell.
Russell had spent all three of his previous seasons with Williams, and insists he was more than happy to be paired with one of F1’s all-time greats.
“In a way, having him as a teammate saved me,” Russell is quoted by Speed Week.
“If he had left Mercedes or the sport when I joined the team, I would have been blamed for the step backwards the team made,” he added.
“But I think that I’ve now proved what I’m worth and what I can do, so there’s no pressure in that regard.”
Indeed, Russell has arguably had the edge over Hamilton in their two seasons together so far.
“I’m there to do my job as well as possible and I think I’m in a very good position,” he insisted.
“So I don’t worry about statistics or whether I’m on Lewis’ pace or whatever, because I feel like I’ve already proved that over the past year.”