Despite Mercedes’ struggles for competitiveness at the start of F1’s new era of technical regulations, Russell enjoyed a superb debut campaign at the German manufacturer.
The 24-year-old Briton claimed his maiden grand prix victory in Brazil on his way to finishing fourth in the drivers’ standings, two places and 35 points clear of Hamilton.
Asked by Crash.net what was the biggest thing he has learned in his first season with Mercedes, Russell responded: “In some regards, I almost feel like a bit of a rookie this season because the level at which this team works – we’re talking about things that I’ve never even spoken about before in Formula 1.
“So, that’s taken me some time to understand – what the team’s processes are during a race weekend, how I can make the car faster in terms of set-up, and that’s why I’ve felt a bit of a rookie at the start of this season.”
Russell also revealed he learned a “huge amount” from his seven-time world champion teammate Hamilton – both on and off the track.
“For sure, being team-mates with Lewis is such an amazing position to be in because he’s obviously the greatest driver of all time and there’s a huge amount I’ve learned from him in the sense of… probably more off-track, to be honest, with how he conducts himself with the engineers and goes about his business,” he explained.
“But equally, small details on-track that have been really impressive for me to see. But, if you want to be a Formula 1 world champion, you’ve got to beat the best and you’ve got to beat everyone. And what a position I’m in to have Lewis as my benchmark.”
And Russell admitted it took him a while to adjust to competing at the front of the grid for the first time in his F1 career, having largely been restricted to racing at the rear of the field with Williams.
“Going to that feeling of me almost being a rookie in some regards, you are racing at the front for the first time,” he explained. “It is a totally different story compared to when you are racing at the back.
“How you approach Turn 1 is totally different. When you have a few cars ahead of you, rather than the concertina effect of 15 cars in front of you. There’s a lot more dirty air when you are behind 15 cars, compared to when you are behind three cars.
“I’ve spent three years racing at the back, I’ve only got 20 races under my belt racing at the front. You learn these little unique-ness of being there, the same way I learned what it was like being at the back.”