George Russell believes that there are five teams capable of "doing something special" in the 2022 F1 season.
The Briton will make the step up to Mercedes after three years with Williams, and he is already expecting a tough fight from several competitors on the grid as the sport introduces a raft of new regulations.
Amongst those that Russell is wary of is Ferrari, who have seen their fortunes improve in recent times after beating McLaren to P3 in the 2021 Constructors' Championship.
"A team like Ferrari, who have been through a difficult period over the last two years, are going to be so hungry, especially with the new rule changes, to come back fighting," Russell told media including RacingNews365.com.
"Similar with McLaren as well. These teams have got the infrastructure, they've got the talent within the engineering departments, within the drivers as well, to really, really fight."
Focus on development
With the competitive field that Russell is expecting, the new Mercedes driver thinks that the focus will be on developing the car throughout the year in order to stay ahead.
"I truly believe there are probably five teams all capable of really doing something special next year, so you've got to be absolutely on it," Russell explained.
"I think the development is going to be so key next year. It's not going to be whoever has the fastest race, or Barcelona test or Bahrain race.
"It's whoever manages to understand their car well, and can develop and build from those foundations throughout the year, and I think all of the teams are going to make big progress from race one to the end of the season."
Russell finished the 2021 season in 16th in the World Championship, and secured a debut podium at the rain-affected Belgian Grand Prix. He joins Mercedes off the back of the team winning a record consecutive eighth Constructors' Championship.
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