George Russell hailed a milestone for Mercedes on Saturday after making sure his team would not end the Formula One season without a win of some sort.
The Briton’s success in the Sao Paulo sprint at Brazil’s Interlagos, setting the grid for the penultimate grand prix of the campaign, brought him only eight points but its significance was far greater.
“They all count,” he said of a 24-lap race without pitstops that will still rank as his first win in Formula One.
“It was definitely a sweet feeling to cross that line in first position... it’s so great to see the progress we’re making as a team.
“It’s such a morale booster going into the winter regardless of the outcome tomorrow. This is a huge result for us.”
Russell told reporters immediately after the race it was “a pretty big milestone”, considering where Mercedes had been at the start of the season with a bouncing and uncompetitive car.
Mercedes came into 2022 having won eight constructors’ titles in a row but have spent months trying to unlock performance from a car that promised plenty but has not delivered.
That could change in Brazil, with seven-times world champion Lewis Hamilton joining Russell on the front row for Sunday’s main grand prix after starting the sprint in eighth place and overtaking double world champion Max Verstappen.
Hamilton said they needed to go for the win on Sunday, working as a team.
“You know, this is about the team,” he said. “We’ve got to get this result for the team. I think it’d be incredibly special. And obviously, we’re chasing the red guys (Ferrari). So it could be good.”
Mercedes are third in the championship but hoping to reel in Ferrari to at least rescue the year as runners-up.
“It would be the greatest dream for sure to get a win here,” added Hamilton, who won at Interlagos last year and waved the Brazilian flag on the podium in honour of boyhood hero Ayrton Senna.
The Briton was given honorary Brazilian citizenship earlier in the week.
“It’ll be tough to race George tomorrow. But we’ll hopefully have a bit of a battle. And, you know, either way, we’ve got to make sure that we get the points and one-two for the team,” he said.