ABU DHABI – Morale at Mercedes is booming after the team’s first win of the Formula One season in Brazil last weekend and they will be going for it again in the finale in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, George Russell said.
The Briton led seven-time world champion teammate Lewis Hamilton in a one-two at the chequered flag at Interlagos after also winning the Saturday sprint and setting the fastest lap.
The Sao Paulo victory was Russell’s first in Formula One, at the end of his fourth season in the sport and first with Mercedes.
Russell told reporters on Thursday he had slept for most of the flight from Brazil to Abu Dhabi and the celebrations had been put on hold until after the season-ender at Yas Marina.
“I always believed I could achieve victories and you believe you can become a world champion,” he said when asked if he felt any different.
“For sure confidence is high and the morale within the team is booming. But you know, I don’t suddenly feel transformed overnight. I still feel the same driver as I was this time one week ago.”
Russell also said that Mercedes would be seeking to make it two in a row this weekend.
“You know, we saw even in Brazil, on a circuit that we didn’t expect to be quite as competitive, we were still very quick. So yeah, we’ll be going for it.”
Hamilton, winner of a record 103 career races, will be hoping to avoid completing his first season without a victory.
Sunday will also bring back memories of the controversial 2021 finale that dashed his hopes of a record eighth title after then-race director Michael Masi made a late change to the safety car procedure, allowing Max Verstappen to pip the Briton to the world title.
“I don’t really think about it, so I don’t really have many thoughts on the last race here. I’ve had many great experiences here in the previous years,” said the five-time Abu Dhabi winner.
Separately, F1 on Friday launched an all-female series that is set to hit the track in 2023 and prepare young girls to race in the sport. The new category, called F1 Academy, will feature five teams run by outfits competing in F1-feeder series F2 and F3. REUTERS