Lewis Hamilton's team-mate George Russell ready to take on Max Verstappen for F1 title in 2023 season | The Sun

GEORGE RUSSELL is ready to take the fight to Max Verstappen this season.

The Brit won his first Grand Prix last year in Brazil as he finished fourth in the  drivers’ championship behind champ Verstappen, Charles Leclerc and Sergio Perez.

However, after coming to terms with racing for a top team — and beating his Mercedes team-mate, seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton — Russell says his goal this season is to battle Verstappen for the title.

Speaking at the launch of this season’s predominantly black Formula One car, 25-year-old Russell was in a bullish mood.

He said: “I’m going into my fifth year of Formula One.

“I have had three difficult years at the back of the grid and I feel like last year was a good taste but I feel absolutely ready within myself and the team I’ve got around me to fight.

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“We want to put that fight against Max. I’m sure Ferrari are going to come out the blocks fast too, so we want to fight against those guys and go for it.

“This is why I had the dream of being an F 1 driver and what I’m working towards every single day, so we are going to be doing our best to achieve that.

“We need to see what the car feels like. I was happy with how we maximised last year, in terms of getting the most out of a difficult package.

“The great thing with this sport is it’s constantly evolving and it’s a new challenge every single year, because of the challenges you face, with the new tyres and the new car.

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“I definitely feel I still have room to improve and that fills me with confidence because I still felt like I was performing at a very high level ,even though I know that I’ve got a lot more in my pocket.

“I was on quite a steep learning curve but I feel like we’ve got a lot to come.”

Russell made a stonking start to his Mercedes career with nine consecutive top-five finishes, including three podiums.

But he admits he learned more from his poor races than he did his successful ones and that sometimes he was simply trying too hard.


He added: “That was a big lesson I learned is that sometimes the harder you try, the more you push, sometimes the result isn’t better.

“You’ve got to be very disciplined with yourself sometimes in your approach for knowing how hard to push.”

Both Russell and Hamilton have got in some crucial running ahead of this week’s pre-season testing in Bahrain.

The pair took part in a tyre test for Pirelli in Spain at the start of this month and drove during a filming day at Silverstone this week, which was  limited to 60 miles.

Hamilton, 38, said: “I got in the car, I did 160 something laps in Jerez and I felt good.

“As always, after the first day of running the back of your neck is always a sore part.

“I’m sure, still, after the first days that we’re running, your body is still getting accustomed to the forces, as the car should hopefully be quicker this year.

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“It is always a much-anticipated moment for everyone at the factory that has been working so hard.

“I’m incredibly grateful for all the effort.”

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