Formula One: Russell says morale at Mercedes booming after Brazil win

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Morale at Mercedes is booming after the team’s first win of the Formula One season in Brazil last weekend and they will be going for it again in the finale in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, George Russell said.

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The 24-year-old Briton led seven times world champion team mate Lewis Hamilton one-two at the checkered flag at Interlagos after also winning the Saturday sprint and setting the fastest lap.

The Sao Paulo victory was Russell’s first in Formula One, at the end of his fourth season in the sport and first with Mercedes.

Russell told reporters on Thursday he had slept for most of the flight from Brazil to Abu Dhabi and the celebrations had been put on hold until after the season-ender at Yas Marina.

“I always believed I could achieve victories and you believe you can become a world champion,” he said when asked if he felt any different.

“For sure confidence is high and the morale within the team is booming. But you know, I don’t suddenly feel transformed overnight. I still feel the same driver as I was this time one week ago.

Russell said Mercedes would be seeking to make it two in a row this weekend.

“I think since Austin the car’s been performing really well and probably better than we could have ever hoped for,” he added.

“(Double world champion) Max (Verstappen) and Red Bull are going to be fast here. I think the combination of the low-speed corners and the long straights, they are going to suit their car really, really well.

“But, you know, we saw even in Brazil, on a circuit that we didn’t expect to be quite as competitive, we were still very quick. So yeah, we’ll be going for it.”

Team mate Hamilton, winner of a record 103 career races and preparing for his 200th with Mercedes, will be hoping to avoid completing his first season without a victory.

Sunday will also bring back memories of last year’s controversial finale that dashed his hopes of a record eighth title after then-race director Michael Masi made a late change to the safety car procedure.

“I don’t really think about it, so I don’t really have many thoughts on the last race here. I’ve had many great experiences here in the previous years,” said the five times Abu Dhabi winner.

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