George Russell was in a buoyant mood as he spoke to the press for the first time since being confirmed as a Mercedes driver for the 2022 season. The Williams driver made it clear that he will be joining his new team on the same level as Lewis Hamilton and not as the Silver Arrows team's No. 2 driver.

The young Briton will take Valtteri Bottas' seat at the reigning champions' garage and is aware of the task that awaits him. Russell has no doubt that it will be a challenge to take on Hamilton, especially in a car that has given the reigning champion his last six world championship titles.

The Williams driver, who secured his first podium in the sport at the Belgian Grand Prix, is expected to provide Hamilton a sterner test than Bottas did in the last five seasons. Russell is ready to race hard, but insisted that it will be done with respect without any intention of disrupting the dynamic within the team.

"Yes I think Mercedes have had clear experience of a sort of poor dynamic within the team and they've made it absolutely clear that they don't want a repeat and I think, on a personal level as well, I don't want that either," Russell said Friday at Monza, as quoted on

"[I'm] definitely going in on level terms and that was made very clear to me. I think Mercedes have always been respectful in that regard, giving both the drivers the best opportunity, and obviously, naturally I believe in myself, and I have high aspirations, but equally I know how tough it's going to be."

Russell also took the opportunity to praise Hamilton, and admitted that he is looking forward to working with the experienced racer to ensure Mercedes stay on top of the pile when the new regulations kick in by 2022.

"As I said, I think Lewis and I have got a really great relationship, we're at different stages of our careers, and we've got one goal next year which is to develop the car push it forward and make sure that we, as two drivers, give ourselves the best chance of having the fastest race car," he added.

The Italian Grand Prix gets underway on Friday and Monza will be the host of the second Sprint race of the season. The new format could again play a key role in the Drivers' championship race, which Max Verstappen currently leads by just three points from Hamilton.

George Russell
British driver George Russell is joining F1 team Mercedes in 2022 Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD/AFP