Russell won’t put ‘own agenda’ above team’s interests

George Russell says that he will always remain a team player in F1, regardless of his personal ambitions or who may be his teammate in the future.

F1 fans are likely just weeks away from getting an answer to the big question that is on everybody’s mind: who will race alongside Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes next season?

Only Russell and incumbent Valtteri Bottas are vying for the plum drive and speculation is growing that the Williams driver, after serving a three-year apprenticeship at Grove, will finally get the big call from Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff.

The prospect of Russell taking on seven-time world champion is an exciting scenario.

But it’s also one that many believe could lead to a costly disruption of the peaceful and balanced atmosphere that has prevailed at Mercedes since 2017, when Hamilton and Bottas were first paired together.

Placing the ambitious and talented Russell on the other side of the Brackley squad’s garage could risk sparking the level of tension and rivalry suffered by the team during the days of Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, when gamesmanship and flashpoints between the two inner camps led to some sleepless nights for Wolff.

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But in Hungary, when Russell was queried on his future and on the odds of his presence at Mercedes rattling the team, the 23-year-old charger had a clear message for his potential future team.

“My ambitions and goals are incredibly clear and I want to become the F1 world champion,” he said.

“But I would never put my own agenda or my own goals above the team no matter who my team-mate is.

“That is the same here at Williams now. I would never do anything to hurt my relationship with my team-mate and I recognise that to be able to achieve your own goals, you need the team to be operating on all cylinders.

“That team spirit and dynamic needs to be at the top of its game just to be able to achieve the team’s objectives.

“If the team achieves, then as a driver you have got a shot, but I never put my own agenda or goals above the team’s.”

A man of his word, Russell had a chance to prove his integrity as a team player in Hungary when, in the early stages of the race, he radioed in to his team and offered to compromise his race for the benefit of teammate Nicholas Latifi who was running up ahead and who was in with a chance to score a big haul of crucial points for Williams.

“It was sort of an undercut race in Hungary,” explained Russell.

“So, I knew Nicholas was in third and I knew if he came home with a P3 or a P4, those 15 or 12 points would be absolutely enough to seal P8 in the championship.

“I’ve always said it. I will put the team’s agenda above mine because ultimately, I’m a team player and I want us as a team to score as many points as possible.”

In the end, both drivers achieved a remarkable top-ten finish and delivered to their team ten points that allowed Williams to snatch P8 in the Constructors’ standings.

George Russell, F1 driver extraordinaire and team player.

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