George Russell has claimed that "going under the radar" for three years at Williams has proved pivotal to his F1 career ahead of his long-awaited move to Mercedes.
As a member of Mercedes' young driver programme, Russell has long been groomed for stardom, notably after winning the GP3 and F2 titles in 2017 and 2018 respectively.
But the Briton has had to bide his time for promotion to Mercedes, serving a three-year apprenticeship at the back of the grid with Williams.
While many young drivers would have found the wait to land a top seat agonising, Russell has hailed its impact, in particular on what it allowed him to do with Williams.
“To be honest, I'm almost essentially more grateful for this opportunity [at Williams]," said Russell, speaking in an end-of-season interview, including GPFans.
"I had such an amazing time going under the radar, learning my trade, learning my craft without having that massive scrutiny of having to deliver every single weekend that could make or break championship positions.
“In 2019, it was almost like a trial run, every single race because there was no scrutiny.
"If you can perform at 150 per cent and still be behind, well behind the next competitor, we could try things, in the sense of I could try things with the driving.
"Whereas, when you enter a weekend, when you're actually fighting, you don't often have that luxury to say ‘I want to try a completely different driving style’ or ‘I want to try turning the setup upside down,’ because if you know you've got something that's working relatively well, you often just stick with that."
Russell driven "to be a winner" with Mercedes
Naturally, fighting in qualifying and races to simply avoid being last on the grid was a difficult situation for Russell.
But he concedes that even if he had been driving for a midfield team, he would still have wanted more anyway given his competitive instinct and desire to be successful.
"You're always learning and you've always got these experiences, good ones, bad ones, and you know how to exploit them in given circumstances," added Russell.
“For me, I want to win, that's clear. I want to be a winner.
“Obviously, it would've been nicer fighting for points week after week after a few years, but I'm sure if I was in a McLaren and was fighting for points week after week, I'd still want more. Ultimately, it's never enough until you win.
“Even though it's obviously slightly nicer to be fighting for points every week or fighting for the podium here and there as opposed to being last every week."