Mercedes driver George Russell expects the team to be “in a much stronger position from race one” of the 2023 Formula 1 World Championship.
Russell finished fourth in the drivers standings, two places and 35 points above teammate Lewis Hamilton.
“They didn’t forget how to build a fast race car,” Russell said. “We just got it wrong this year.”
He told BBC Radio Norfolk: “We got the philosophy wrong. We took a road that turned out to be the wrong one.
“Sometimes it takes you a long time to get out of that hole. Now I feel like we got out of that hole and we’re building on top of it.
“We are one step behind Red Bull and Ferrari and we have a lot of catching up to do – but we are definitely going to be in a much stronger position from race one next year than we were this year.”
“With Mercedes, we expect victories”
Russell, born in King’s Lynn joins Mercedes for the 2022 season, replacing Valtteri Bottas, after starting his F1 career with Williams.
And he achieved seven more podiums as well as his first win, despite the team failing to keep pace with Red Bull and Ferrari for much of the season.
“When you join a team like Mercedes, you expect wins. I felt ready to fight for race wins and championships this year, but you just have to manage your expectations,” Russell said.
“You have to change those views slightly and it’s been really intriguing for me this year, to see how the team handles that.
“I’m in it for the long haul and even though I wanted wins and [to be] fight for this championship in 2022, as a team, these struggles will prepare us for the years to come.
“Hopefully I look back 10 years from now and say the 2022 season was positive in the journey.”
Although he has surpassed seven-time world champion Hamilton, for whom five second places was his best performance of the campaign, Russell is aware that he must continue to “raise the bar” in terms of his own performance and his contribution to the team.
“If you had told me at the start of the year that I would finish ahead of Lewis Hamilton [in the drivers’ standings]I would have been very happy because nine times out of 10 it probably means you’re going to be world champion,” he said.
“It’s a bit frustrating that this year isn’t that year. We were both fighting for P4, P5, P6 and we don’t want to be in that position so I’m not going to leave this season with a lot of pride because I finished fourth in the championship. I’m here to win.”
“Lewis is the greatest of all time”
Russell’s win in Brazil was achieved by holding Hamilton back for the final 10 laps after the team told them they were cleared to race.
And despite that, he insists they’ve built a good relationship over the season.
“It takes a while anytime you join a new team, whoever your teammate is, to integrate yourself and gain that trust within the whole organization,” he said.
“It’s been a good journey for me, being a teammate with him. He’s the greatest of all time, so I’m in a very privileged position to step right alongside him but also learn from him.”
He added: “I’m really excited for 2023. I’m still going to try to improve my driving, what I’m doing on and off the track, and hopefully we have the car under us to fight for the championship.”