George Russell has revealed how Lewis Hamilton pushed him 'to his limits' as a driver after finishing ahead of the seven-time champion in the final Formula 1 standings at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Russell entered the Yas Marina finale on 265 points to Hamilton's 240, meaning a Hamilton win coupled with a Russell DNF would have seen the two swap positions.
As it happened, Hamilton retired with a hydraulic/gearbox issue late, with Russell taking P5 in the race to secure fourth place in the Drivers' Championship.
Hamilton's retirement resulted in a sixth-place finish in the Drivers' standings, his lowest ever placing in an F1 championship.
The younger Briton – who is just the third teammate to beat Hamilton in a season – revealed just how far he had to go.
Teammates who have beaten Lewis Hamilton
|2011||Jenson Button||McLaren||270 - 2nd place||227 - 5th place|
|2016||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes||385 - 1st place||380 - 2nd place|
|2022||George Russell||Mercedes||275 - 4th place||240 - 6th place|
Russell at limit to beat Hamilton
"I feel incredibly fortunate to be with a team such as Mercedes and teammates with Lewis – he's really pushed me to my limits as a driver," Russell explained to media, including RacingNews365.com.
"I've learned a huge amount going up against somebody like him in the same car.
"There is no better reference.
"If you told me that at the start of the season [I'd finish ahead], I would have been incredibly proud and incredibly happy with that, because nine times out of 10 if you finish ahead of Lewis Hamilton, you're probably going to be World Champion.
"We've all had our own difficulties. I've no doubt that he's going to be probably back to his normal level next year.
"I think he had a very difficult start to the season when things weren't really going smoothly for him, and they were probably going a bit smoother for me.
"That kind of swung around a little bit [in] the second half of the season, but looking back on the season as a whole, it probably balanced itself out."
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Russell relieved with first win
After a troubled season, Russell did claim his first victory in F1 at the Brazilian Grand Prix – Mercedes' only win of the season.
While happy with breaking his duck, he was keen not to get too carried away.
"We are proud of what we achieved [in Brazil], but I'm here to try and become Formula 1 World Champion, and we've got a long road ahead of us," he added.
"For sure, it's good to to get it off your back, but you're only as good as your last race and the last race was here in Abu Dhabi.
"We finished fifth [in the race] and fourth in the championship.
"We're going to look back with a lot of pride on the season but, equally, knowing there's a lot to improve if we want to fight with Max [Verstappen and Red Bull]."
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