George Russell says it has been made “very clear” by Mercedes that he will be given equal treatment when he partners Lewis Hamilton in 2022.
Following months of speculation, Mercedes announced on Tuesday that it had signed Russell for next year to replace Alfa Romeo bound Valtteri Bottas.
Russell’s links to Mercedes date back to 2017 when he joined its junior programme, and drove for the team in last year’s Sakhir Grand Prix as a stand-in for Hamilton when he contracted COVID-19.
Conformation of Russell’s move to Mercedes has led to questions as to whether he can ruffle Hamilton’s feathers in a similar fashion to how the seven-time world champion entered Formula 1 back in 2007 alongside Fernando Alonso.
While Russell said partnering Hamilton gives him a chance to “learn from him”, he stressed he wasn’t joining Mercedes to play second fiddle after the team were clear he would enter next year on “level terms” with his fellow Briton.
“That was made very clear to me,” Russell said, as quoted by Motorsport.com.
“I think Mercedes are always respectful in that regard, to give both drivers the best opportunity.
“Naturally I believe in myself, and I have high aspirations. But equally I know just how tough it is going to be.
“Lewis is a seven-time world champion for a reason, and I think I’m in probably one of the most fortunate positions on the grid to be able to go out there and learn from him.
“For myself, I see this partnership with Mercedes as a long-term thing, and I guess I need to use next year as a real opportunity to learn, and take it race by race, and just see how I get on.
“But I’ve got no initial thoughts really.”
Mercedes is known to have always stuck with the approach of giving each of its drivers equal status, even in the heat of the intense battle between Hamilton and Nico Rosberg when they fought for the drivers’ title as team-mates over three consecutive seasons.
Although many feel the Russell/Hamilton partnership could boil over in a similar vein, the current Williams driver was confident that wouldn’t be the case.
“I think Mercedes have had clear experience of a poor dynamic within the team, and they’ve made it absolutely clear that they don’t want a repeat,” Russell said.
“On a personal level as well, I don’t want that either. I think it’s so important as teammates to work together, to push the team.
“Next year it’s a new car and new regulations. There’s no guarantees who is going to have the fastest car. I guess it’s our job as drivers to push that forward.
“I’d say as well, Lewis and I are at very different stages of our career, which I think also helps, and I have a huge amount of respect for him, I think being so much younger and looking up to him as a young karting driver changes that dynamic a lot too.
“I don’t see there being any issues at all.”