Russell: I’ve always had the most amount of pressure from myself

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - DECEMBER 03: George Russell of Great Britain and Mercedes GP talks to the media in the Paddock during previews ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Sakhir at Bahrain International Circuit on December 03, 2020 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

George Russell has revealed that he puts the most pressure on himself and only sees his Mercedes affiliation as a “positive”.

The 22-year-old impressed on his Mercedes debut at the Sakhir Grand Prix, driving like someone with far more experience of competing at the front of the grid.

Asked whether his affiliation with the reigning champions led to him feeling under pressure, Russell said that while it did earlier in his career, he has since shifted his mentality.

“Arguably, when I was a bit younger, maybe my early races in GP3,” he told Autocar. “Probably during 2017, there was a point where my mentality shifted.

“I told myself: ‘I’m here for a reason and they haven’t picked me up for the sake of it.’ Mercedes don’t sign 15-20 young drivers every year; at the time, I was one of three. I knew I had to go out there and do my job to the best of my ability.

“I’ve always had the most amount of pressure from myself. I know what I want to achieve, and I only saw being affiliated with Mercedes as a positive. Maybe I enjoyed that extra pressure that I knew all eyes were on me, even back then.”

The Brit’s form when stepping into the Mercedes has led to calls for the team to promote him at the expense of Valtteri Bottas.

Russell qualified behind Bottas at the Sakhir Grand Prix but overtook him at the start and said that he watches laps by the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen and analyses where he can improve.

“You’ve got to treat every opportunity as if it’s your last because you don’t know what’s around the corner,” he added. “I don’t think anybody could have predicted what happened in Sakhir.

“I’m honest with myself, I know when there’s a bit more time in there. When I watch a lap of Lewis Hamilton or Max Verstappen and I see what they’re achieving, I know if I’ve managed to do similar or if I’m a bit away from them. I’m my biggest critic.”