George Russell believes that his years of toiling away at the back of the grid has made him a more rounded driver, as he prepares to step forward into the limelight with Mercedes.
Russell has been given the nod for 2022, promoted in place of the departing Valtteri Bottas, with the Mercedes protege getting his opportunity after three years driving for Williams.
Unfortunately for Russell, his signing at Williams coincided with the team's complete slump to the very back of the field, and it took until 2021 for him to score his first-ever F1 points.
But despite the lack of on-track results, Russell has said the experience of driving for Williams will stand him in good stead.
"I'm grateful for the difficulties I've faced on the track and throughout these years," he said in an interview with Autosport.
"Because, quite often, when you get in a faster car and a car that is more complete, things just naturally feel easier.
"At Williams we had so many limitations – whether it was trying to get the tyres in the right window, the brakes in the right window, following other cars has been incredibly difficult, [as has] really fighting in battles and to hold onto positions.
"When the car is faster often everything feels good. The strategy always feels good when the car is fast. These sorts of things start feeling your way.
"I feel a more rounded driver because of these lessons. I talk about it with my trainer – about building this toolbox of experience and knowledge. I'm sure throughout my F1 career I'm never going to have the best car year after year.
"But if I do have a car that's very difficult to drive, I've had these experiences – that I can just go back into the toolbox and remember what I experienced throughout 2019 or these last few years. So I feel pretty fortunate to have had this."
Excited for 2022
The 2022 season represents Russell's first proper opportunity to score regular points, podiums and, if the car proves competitive, the potential to score his first win or challenge for the title.
With F1 entering a new regulatory era with vastly different cars, Russell's interest in the setup and engineering side of Formula 1 has been piqued.
"I am really excited to see the new cars and what they offer for everybody," he explained.
"I think that is really exciting but also I'm looking forward to being part of the development of a car that will be progressing drastically throughout a season.
"So working with the designers, working on the simulator, putting lots of work into progress, because I'm sure it won't necessarily be whoever is quickest at race one that will win [the title]. It will be who progresses fastest.
"I am sure there will be some interesting designs out there and there might be some underdogs who prevail in the opening tests or races. It is whoever develops the fastest, whoever develops the best and to build those foundations for the coming years.
"That is a side I am really excited for – from an engineering perspective."
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