George Russell says that he felt “huge relief” after beating Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton to victory in Brazil earlier this year.
For much of the 2022 season, Mercedes struggled for pace and was unable to consistently challenge Red Bull and Ferrari for race wins.
However in Brazil, its car was able to compete at the front of the grid, with Russell controlling much of the race from the lead.
In the latter stages, following a Safety Car restart, Russell had Hamilton breathing down his neck for first position – however Russell would hold on to secure his maiden grand prix victory.
“Having Lewis in my mirrors – knowing he was only 1.3 second behind me – made it all an incredibly high-pressure situation,” Russell said.
“I had my engineer Riki giving me those gaps lap after lap, just knowing that I couldn’t make a single mistake as that would have given him an opportunity to pounce.
“The moment I crossed that line it was a huge relief. Knowing that we accomplished that victory as a team, but also for myself on a personal level knowing that I had handled that situation and handled that pressure was something I was very proud of.”
2022 marked Russell’s first season with Mercedes, having spent three years previously with Williams, competing at the back of the field.
Despite the year having hurdles, Russell says he is hopeful that Mercedes’ findings throughout the season will aid its 2023 form.
“This first year with Mercedes has been so great in so many ways,” he said.
“Dealing with a huge group of people who are incredibly talented in what they do has really pushed me to try and be better at what I do.
“That goes for within the driver’s seat and also the journey we have been on as a team.
“With the struggles at the start of the year, the car being off the pace and then coming through towards the end of the season, it has been really exciting to see that progress especially heading into 2023.”