Lewis Hamilton said he welcomed the arrival of the “incredibly talented” 23-year-old as his new team-mate and believed the move from Williams was a win-win for his countryman.
“George is coming in to learn from the team but also he’s got everything to gain,” said Hamilton. “There’s no real negative for him coming in the team. It’s all a plus.”
However, recognized as one of the leading lights of the new generation of drivers on the grid, which includes Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc and Lando Norris, Russell is widely regarded as a future world champion.
“The young talent coming through is so great for the sport and is the future of the sport,” added Hamilton. “New fresh blood in our team is going to be great because obviously I’m the oldie there.
“That definitely will energize the whole team knowing that they have a new youngster coming through who is super hungry, driven and he pushing the team forwards.”
The world champion added: “I just know he’s going to continue to get stronger, even in these next nine races [of 2021], and next year he’ll be bringing the heat for sure.”
Meanwhile, the last five years at Mercedes have seen Hamilton and current team-mate Valtteri Bottas forge and successful and, significantly, harmonious relationship. The latter quality was not something increasingly in evidence, however, when Nico Rosberg was alongside Hamilton from 2013-16.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has made clear he does not want a return to the Hamilton-Rosberg dynamic, and both his 2022 drivers believe there should not be any issues.
“It’s quite a strange sport where it’s a team sport and it’s also an individual sport,” acknowledged Hamilton. “You’ve got those two championships and individually you want to finish ahead but at the same time, you’ve got to do the job to get the team ahead.
“It’s a difficult one to navigate through but I like to think we’ve experienced it and learned from it and therefore should be pretty well set moving forwards.”