George Russell has played down prospects of Lewis Hamilton's tempestuous winter break giving him an increased chance of defeating the seven-time F1 champion during his first year at Mercedes.
The pair will form an all-British line-up to try and extend the Silver Arrows' monopoly over the constructors' championship to nine consecutive seasons.
Russell was promoted by virtue of his impressive performances with Williams over the past three seasons, with various pundits suggesting he will be able to trouble Hamilton for race wins and the title, should Mercedes' attempt to optimise its new car work out.
Hamilton settled into silence across the winter period in the wake of the controversial Abu Dhabi Grand Prix where Max Verstappen's last-lap overtake took away a record-breaking eight championship for the Briton.
With fears over whether Hamilton would return only allayed in the week before the launch of the W13 in February, Russell was asked if this opened a window of opportunity for him to get ahead of his new team-mate.
"Lewis is a fighter, he's a racer," he insisted.
"His absolute main priority is to be the best version of himself when he hits the track in Bahrain for race one.
"He's more experienced than I am. He knows what it takes to be a world champion and he knows what preparation he needs over the course of a pre-season to prepare himself best for that first race.
"Everybody's different. I'll have a different approach probably to Lewis, he'll have a different approach to another driver, and that's for all of the Formula 1 drivers.
"You need to learn what is best for you and respect how each individual does that."