George Russell says he can feel satisfied with his "relatively good" start to the 2022 season, but remains wary that one misstep leaves him open to getting his "ass kicked".
Russell has impressed over the opening half of his maiden campaign at Mercedes, following three years running towards the back of the F1 grid with Williams.
After 11 rounds, he leads experienced teammate Hamilton in both their qualifying and race head-to-heads, racking up 19 more points in the process.
But as his time at Mercedes develops, and with Hamilton recently embarking on a podium-finishing run, Russell knows he needs to remain at the top of his game.
Russell: No guarantee of success with my Mercedes deal
"Signing a piece of paper to join the greatest team of this era, without doubt, is obviously a huge moment," Russell told the Beyond the Grid podcast, looking back on the moment his Mercedes switch was confirmed.
"But if I don't perform, and I go and get my ass kicked by the greatest driver of all time, what does it mean? Because I'll probably be out the door.
"It was a huge moment, it was a huge step on my ladder, but it's sort of like the image of the guy climbing the mountain; he thinks he's at the top and then he looks up and the peak's miles away, and then you get there, and there's another peak.
"That's kind of the way I looked at it. There's a lot to be to celebrate for a moment like that, but I want to be a World Champion, and I want to win races, and signing that contract didn't guarantee anything."
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Russell: If I'm ahead, level or behind, it's no big deal
Russell was similarly philosophical when asked what his targets were heading into his first season alongside Hamilton.
"I don't know. I had zero expectations," the 24-year-old commented.
"I went into the season truly wanting to focus on myself and I always believed that I'd be able to get to a great potential, once I got a few races under my belt and understood the car, and being able to maximise that.
"I kind of accepted prior to the season, if I'm two-tenths behind the greatest driver of all time in the opening few races, it's no big deal. If I'm on the same pace, it's no big deal, and if I'm ahead, it's no big deal.
"[I thought] I'm just going to focus on myself and try and get the most out of that, and I think it's been a relatively good start to the season."
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