George Russell pinpointed tyre management as Lewis Hamilton‘s biggest advantage over him heading into the 2023 F1 World Championship, but refused to answer how he expected to match up to his Mercedes teammate over the season.
Russell beat Hamilton in the 2022 drivers’ championship and scored Mercedes‘ only win, sprint race victory and pole position but pundits remain divided on which had the stronger year, with Hamilton focussed on helping long-term development at the start of the season.
Mercedes launched their 2023 car at Brackley and hope to be competing at the front early on, and Russell was asked where he needs to improve against Hamilton in 2023.
“I think the main one is probably just the tyre management,” Russell told select media including Total-Motorsport.com. “I think something Lewis very good at is maximizing stints and the getting most at the tyres across a stint.
“That year under my belt, being teammates with him, seeing some of his traits, it’s been really, really beneficial for me. So I feel like I was on quite a steep learning curve in that regard, but still, as I said, I feel like we’ve got a lot more to come.”
Room to improve for Russell in 2023
Despite three stellar seasons at Williams, a victory-worthy stand-in performance for Mercedes in 2020 and winning the GP3 and F2 championships in back-to-back years, there were still question marks over how Russell would perform against Hamilton.
The seven-time champion had spearheaded Mercedes ever since Nico Rosberg‘s retirement in 2016 and won six world championships with the Silver Arrows, but he got up to speed straight away in the W13.
He finished in the top five for the first nine races of the season and only finished a race outside the top five twice all season. Though Hamilton improved in their battle during the second half of 2022, Russell still managed Mercedes‘ only win of the season, at the Brazilian Grand Prix, and finished 35 points ahead of his teammate.
Russell‘s not content with that though, and said he feels he has more to give in 2023.
“There’s definitely still room to improve,” Russell added. “And that fills me with confidence because I still felt like I performed at a very, very high level even though I know that I’ve got a lot more, sort of in my pocket.
“I think the great thing with Formula One in this sport is it’s constantly evolving and it is a new challenge every single year because the challenges you face are based with the tyres, with the car and obviously every year we have new tyres, new cars.”