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Russell relishing opportunity to race alongside 'superhero' Hamilton

George Russell is pinching himself after becoming Lewis Hamilton's new teammate at Mercedes for the 2022 F1 season.

George Russell has admitted that he feels a sense of the "surreal" heading into 2022, as he took part in the Mercedes W13 car launch alongside new teammate Lewis Hamilton. While Hamilton is a seasoned veteran of F1, Russell steps into the limelight for the first time this season as he moves up from the Williams squad to replace the departed Valtteri Bottas. Asked about how it feels to be partnering up with one of the most successful drivers in the history of the sport, Russell says it is a moment he is treasuring. "It's definitely surreal," he admitted. "We've all seen the photo of Lewis and me when I was 10 years old (referring to a famous photograph of a young Russell shyly approaching Hamilton, bedecked in his McLaren race suit, looking for an autograph). We've both changed quite a lot since then, and it's incredible to see. "Obviously, I was a young kid aspiring to reach Formula 1, and Lewis was World Champion at the time [2008]. "Lewis was a superhero to me; you see these incredible people and you don't think they're human. "Now, [having] growing up, having the opportunity to race alongside Lewis is a real privilege for me, because I've got such a great opportunity to learn and see how the best does it."

Russell trying not to set many targets for 2022

While Russell might reasonably expect to become a regular podium finisher in 2022, or even a race winner, if the new Mercedes is as competitive as its predecessors, he explained that he is trying not to set any targets for himself at this point of the year. "I think you have to go in with an open mind," he said. "I think it's almost important not to set too many targets or too many goals, because we don't know what this [the W13] is going to offer. "You can't go in with too many preconceived ideas, and we've got so much change – it's the biggest change we've ever seen with the cars, but then we have the tyres as well, and how that's going to work together. "Obviously, with myself working with a new team, a new set of engineers, we just have to keep an open mind and be dynamic to the situation. "I'm sure there's gonna be so much change, so much development across the course of the year. "I think that's where we really want to focus on, because we know there'll be drastic improvements - we hope improvements - as the season progresses, and that's where we need to make sure we're on the right side of that."

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