Hamilton eager to go up against “incredibly talented” Russell at Mercedes

2021 Dutch Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton says he will welcome George Russell into Mercedes if the Williams driver is confirmed as his team mate for the 2022 F1 season.

However, Hamilton stressed he will remain supportive of his current team mate Valtteri Bottas as Mercedes are yet to confirm who Hamilton’s team mate next year will be.

Hamilton said he was impressed by Russell’s performance in qualifying last weekend, when the Williams driver pipped him to a place on the front row of the grid in a very wet qualifying session.

“I honestly think he’ll be good,” said Hamilton when asked by RaceFans about Russell’s likely arrival at Mercedes. “I think George is an incredibly talented driver, clearly. I would say probably the only highlight from last week was his qualifying lap, it was amazing.

“I think he’s humble, I think he’s got a great approach. Naturally being British I would imagine probably helps in terms of communication.

George Russell, Williams, Spa-Francorchamps, 2021
Russell stunned by out-qualifying Hamilton at Spa
“At the moment naturally I have to be super-supportive of the team mate I have right now so that’s why I’m always supportive of Valtteri because we have a job to do right now. Neither of us can win the team championship alone, we have to do it collectively.

“I think he’s one of the members of the future of the sport. I think he’s already showing incredible driving so far and I’m sure he’s going to continue to grow so where better to do it than in a great team like this or what team he goes to.”

Russell’s consistently strong qualifying performances and shock second place at Spa have marked him out as a star of the future. Hamilton also sees him that way, but denied he is concerned about going up against the 23-year-old.

“It’s not like I haven’t been proved [myself]. I raced against some incredible drivers as team mates. In my rookie year I was alongside Fernando [Alonso]. I don’t really feel like I have anything to prove.

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“I’m in a different place in my life. I’m excited to see the youngsters coming through – it’s not that I want to lose to a youngster, naturally, but I am excited to see the progression of the sport. I am a fan of the sport at the end of the day.

“You’ve heard me earlier on in the year talk about Lando [Norris], it’s encouraging to see these youngsters come through. They’re fierce. I see a lot of myself in this younger generation. They’re what the sport’s going to be relying on moving forwards. There’ll be things that we learn from one another.”

Hamilton had an increasingly fractious relationship with his first Mercedes team mate, Nico Rosberg, which ended when his former karting rival quit F1 unexpectedly after winning the 2016 world championship. That led the team to hurriedly promote Bottas from Williams.

However Hamilton is confident he can have a positive relationship with Russell if he joins the team next year.

“It’s important that, naturally, respect is always there and communication will be at the core of that. We’ve got an amazing setting at our team in terms of morale, in terms of our processes and how the team put their arms around the two drivers and that’s why we have harmony in our team. I think we are so much better prepared than we were in previous years so it doesn’t really worry me.”

Russell’s role as a substitute for Hamilton at least year’s Sakhir Grand Prix will make it easier for him to adjust to the team, the world champion believes.

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“When you start with someone new it takes time. Even when we have a new engineer or a new mechanics it take a moment for them to gel in.

“But George has already been on the circuit with us, he’s already done a race with the team, he’s already been in the background while Valtteri and I have been working in the past. So I think he knows the environment well.

“But my focus right now is me and Valtteri have a job to do and I’m proud to work alongside Valtteri. I think he’s a decent human being and I think that’s at the core of the respect I have and on top of that he’s a close competitor. He never gives up, keeps pushing and he’s helped me deliver these championships with the team. I couldn’t have done it without him.”

2021 Dutch Grand Prix

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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63 comments on “Hamilton eager to go up against “incredibly talented” Russell at Mercedes”

  1. Nice comments from the great one to the young grass hopper

    Reply moderated
  2. Could anyone at Mercedes possibly do a worse job of keeping this a secret?

    1. Unless all is bit different to what we all assume right now? Just saw interview with Bottas, he seemed relaxed and joyful – certainly not the expected feeling when you are heading for 2nd slowest car on the grid.

      1. Perhaps he is relieved he has landed a seat and perhaps it is a two year deal. It keeps him in the game without the ignominy of going back to Williams too, maybe.

        He has been on one year deals since 2017 and must have always known that was because Merc have young drivers coming through which they need to accommodate and nurture. At Williams he got a 4th in the championship and he knows that next year there are no certainties as where any team will be in the pecking order.

      2. @Kotrba

        I get the impression that he is not that happy at Mercedes. He might enjoy himself a lot more next year.

      3. I thought this when I saw he Bottas/Russell interviews, Ive got a something or other where I cannot read people’s facial cues, a subtle hint takes a week to drop and I gave up on playing L.A Noire as I couldn’t make any sense of the interview mini game, yet I got the impression that Bottas was staying at Merc. Like I say the whole thing left me very confused..

      4. I think he’s happy to go up against a teammate he can beat.

  3. Honestly, I would like to see Lando with Hamilton.

    1. Lando and Russell at McLaren.

      1. I’ve watched Lando an George when they were doing Ginetta’s and thought they would go far (what happened with Senna Proctor?). If Merc have any sense there sign Lando after Lewis retires, or Mclaren sign George…
        Whatever way you look at it F1 is looking good with a 3 way battle and all the also- rans :)

    2. Only if one of them miss a race due to…let’s say other commitments.

  4. Just announce it already.

  5. I don’t really feel like I have anything to prove.

    And keeps repeating this over and over again.
    Some doubt is creeping in.
    The partnership with George will be a different one compared with his current wingman.
    But it will be, “George this is james” to avoid Lewis insecurities.

    1. ummmm…he said it twice…not repeated over and over. And I’m no LH fan (or a fan of anyone in particular come to think about it) but as the most successful F1 driver ever, what else do you think he needs to prove? Are Schumacher and Senna also unproven? Lauda? Prost?

      1. he said it twice…

        he said it before.
        The simple fact he seems to think that it is an issue shows it is.
        As shown in the struggle with rosberg and now verstappen, Lewis is mentally very vulnerable.

        1. Your comments are exhausting.

          Yes Lewis made some mistakes this year and maybe really is mentally vulnerable.

          But can’t you stop with this negativity against him? Just enjoy the battle of 2 great drivers on track. I mean, I see your anti Hamilton comments literally 4-5 times on every forum here.

        2. ‘Lewis is mentally very vulnerable’

          Lol, you really are a tool aren’t you?

          1. Replace t with f and it will still be true.

        3. It is only an issue because you want it to be.
          I don’t know why you keep giving yourself so much discomfort for another person’s problem.

    2. He’s saying that because of those like you who seem to think that for some reason Lewis ‘fears’ a fast team mate.

      I mean he’s only twice been paired with the then current WDC’s, so of course he’s petrified of young George!!

      His loyalty and supportive words to Bottas is what you’d expect from a professional, who’s a team player – if you think that means he’s petrified at getting a faster team mate, more fool you

      1. @banbrorace

        I mean he’s only twice been paired with the then current WDC’s, so of course he’s petrified of young George!!

        Alonso thought the same about Hamilton in 2007 but in reality it wasn’t quite like that. He managed only the closest thing possible to a tie in the standings against the rookie at the end of the season.
        So it’s better not underestimate young George! ;)

        Reply moderated
    3. Are you obsessed with Hamilton…? You literally live on here talking about him?

      Get some air.

    4. And keeps repeating this over and over again.

      And yet, he’s not nearly as repetitive as you are at slagging Hamilton.

    5. I really respect Hamilton, and while I wouldn’t call myself a ‘fan’, I think he’s definitely one of the greatest drivers to ever step in to an F1 cockpit. But to be honest.. he’s been vouching for Bottas as a teammate pretty openly, and while he might talk big about not being afraid of going up against anyone.. he’s clearly looking for a tier 2 teammate, who he can outpace regularly and have as a compliant team member.

      I think Russell is going to be Hamilton’s most difficult teammate since Alonso. It’s going to be fun next season.. and it will definitely have the Hamilton-Rosberg vibes at some point in time next season.

  6. I think learning the new regulations is really going to suit George.

    This year could be Hamilton’s last chance to win an 8th championship

    1. 2013: “The new regulations will put Hamilton at a serious disadvantage and should benefit Rosberg”.

      2014: Hamilton writes the book on how to get the most out of the turbo-hybrids.

      1. I still recall the bewilderment of many when FOM would broadcast fuel usage and it’d show Lewis using less fuel than Nico despite being quicker. People really underestimate the maestro.

        1. @emma
          Was he using less fuel for what reason? If his car was lighter for having less fuel, he’d be found in breach of the technical regulations. If his car was using less fuel despite having enough on it, it was a waste and not something to be bragging about, as it’s a problem to have such unnoticed disadvantage. In a close fight with Rosberg as it was that’s not something to be overlooked.
          Rosberg had to deal with extra tyre deg for having to pursuit Hamilton in so many races (a little less in 2015 when he scored more pole positions). Was he a “maestro” of tyre management? Yes, but probably not the best of all-time, just like the case you brought it doesn’t prove that much. Anecdotal evidence.

          People really underestimate the maestro.

          I partially agree, but others put him over a pedestal in a way that isn’t much nice, when it becomes an over the edge idolatry.

          Reply moderated
  7. Yes, we believe him when we can rant about what he says, and then disbelieve him when we can’t find anything in what he says to hang around his neck. Not that we can trust Russell either. All that waffle from his interview with F1 when he entered the sport right up to late last year where he has been thanking Ham for all the help and tips he has been getting from Ham over the years. Clearly a complete lie from Russell. Why would Ham help someone he is scared of?

  8. Bring it on. Lewis will be Alonso this time around. Seems like a perfect circle to me.

    1. He spoke about that a year or two ago in a similar fashion. He will be happy to move on from Mercedes when the next guy is ready to take his place. Although ‘perfect circle’ sums it up better.
      But if Ham is Alonso this time, does that make Max Kimi?

      1. But if Ham is Alonso this time, does that make Max Kimi?

        Interesting the way your “mind” works.
        Not sure where kimi pops up, but I guess it’s your lack of realism.

        1. Tsk tsk, you obviously don’t remember Kimi became WC in the year that ‘Hamilton is Alonso’ refets to…

        2. But it’s quite obvious the way your ‘mind’; if we can call it that, works. Numpty.

      2. Haha, who knows. It sure will get more crowded at the top. Lando and Charles will chip in as well

  9. Come on, update your articles, Bottas in STAYING!!

  10. George is going to crush Lewis on overall pace. Hamilton will probably keep up in the points because of his ability to nearly always finish but I expect Mercedes to be unstoppable in the WCC unless the 2022 car is less competitive than the recent mercs.

    1. Bottas is STAYING, wake up!!

      1. Where’s the source? I can’t find sure news anywhere.

        1. I think there’s a good reason for that.

          1. But did you notice it’s been made in august 2020? He’s talking about staying for 2021.

    2. @ryanoceros

      Nobody would ‘crush Lewis on overall pace’.

      I’m perplexed by how eccentric some of the comments here are.

      1. I guess the quali gap between Lewis and Valtteri (which is very small all the time, not like with Max and his team mates) opens up the possibility for George to be better..

    3. If you are expecting that instantly, then it is quite ridiculous. Before all the chaos at the end of Sakhir grand prix, Russell was only slowly pulling away from Bottas, then being caught up steadily later on. If Bottas on a bad day had similar pace to Russell, then I don’t know how you expect Russell to be able to destroy Hamilton pace wise.

      1. @thegianthogweed

        It was his first race in that car. It’s hard to do much better than what George did that weekend.

        1. I did first say that if they were expecting Russell to instantly destroy Hamilton, then they should factor in that he didn’t instantly destroy bottas (ignoring what happened later on) even when Bottas didn’t look very good. And Bottas isn’t exactly close to Hamilton is he on race day? That was my point. Unless Hamilton keeps fading (which actually is possible) I don’t expect Russell to be very close on average.

  11. Interesting words from Hamilton here. I appreciate how he cares about the sport on this level, and I really appreciate how he projects the end of his career by passing the baton into the hands of talented guys like George, Lando and Max.

    I see Hamilton and George a bit like Massa and Schumacher in Ferrari some years ago. At this moment of his career, he is going to be a point of guidance to George.

    Seeing closely how Hamilton operates will boost and shape George’s raw talent.
    With that guidance, I expect George to be the top dog of this next F1 generation.

    1. I think George will do to Max what Max done to Ric, George and Lando are the real deal, Max will fall into that ‘Sterling Moss’ category…

      1. @f1-plossl Are you suggesting Moss was not the real deal?

        1. No, of course not, just a very good driver that didn’t become WDC.

      2. Stirling > Max. That is all.

      3. @f1-plossl

        I think George will do to Max what Max done to Ric, George and Lando are the real deal, Max will fall into that ‘Sterling Moss’ category…

        Bold statement. Such a pity that you won’t mark your own words when proved wrong, as always. One WDC for Max along his entire career is enough to prove your wrong. Lemmy fans never cease to embarrassing themselves.

        Reply moderated
        1. ‘Such a pity that you won’t mark your own words when proved wrong, as always’
          This doesn’t make any sense.

          ‘One WDC for Max along his entire career is enough to prove your wrong.’
          This also doesn’t make any sense.

          You need to lose the ‘to’ or the ‘ing’ in the last sentence for it to make sense.

          Apart from ‘Bold statement’ the rest is a bit of a ‘ 3 2 1 ‘ riddle.

  12. I can’t help but think that something strange is going on here as it seems to be taking way to long to announced Russell as the new driver. I wonder if it could be that they’re keeping Bottas and trying to get Russell into a more competitive ride. Like perhaps at McLaren to partner Lando.

    1. @velocityboy It seems there are a lot of pieces moving around here, a number of the experienced and long standing journalists like Dieter have been working on the picture through their connections. It sounds like it is not just Russell to Mercedes, with Bottas to Alfa sounding the most likely outcome possibly alongside Nick de Vries with Giovinassi moving to Ferrari’s LMH program for 2022. The final interesting rumour is Alexander Albon returning to a drive by leaving the Red Bull fold and joining Williams to replace Russell. If this is true then it’s not a surprise it’s slow to announce with Toto Wolf and Frederic Vasseur the main protagonists!

    2. George and Lando at Mclaren, Now that would be a mighty team…

      If Mclaren don’t grab this chance now, they never will…

    3. Nothing strange going on at all. Just a lot of dominoes needing to fall before it gets announced.

      For example, if Bottas is going to Alfa, they couldn’t announce that before Kimi announced his retirement. The dust will need to settle on that first.

      No doubt Alfa also want to get the situation with Giovinazzi and Ferrari sorted as well before announcing anyone and announce the pair of new drivers at once. And as Toto Wolff hinted at before, until people are fixed up elsewhere, there’d be no announcement for Mercedes. That will no doubt all happen on the same day as the Russell announcement.

      Likewise i reckon Williams will want their driver situations sorted before things are announced, and they likely need to get the Red Bull side of things sorted with Albon, who are probably also sitting back looking at Tsunoda thinking ‘hmm we don’t really want to commit on that just yet’. Whilst that’s not going to be the one holding up the Russell announcement directly, it is something all parties will be happy enough to stand back and not say anything for now.

      If there is anything weird going on, it’s Bottas not staying in F1 at all…..

  13. Totally off topic but Texas has gone completely mad and is banning all abortions from today. It’s cruel and ugly but they’re doing it. Friends and I were planning to go down to COTA in Austin for the GP next month, but I’ll never spend another dime in Texas until they scrap this horrible law. Pity. This would have been my third visit to the COTA GP.

    Reply moderated
  14. So where Ricciardo says “obviously” Lewis says “naturally”. It’s funny noticing the subtleties in people’s use of the same language. I’ve noticed Johnny Herbert’s favourite is “sort of”.

  15. Congrats on what will be a well deserved step up, RUS! I must admit I thought BOT was locked in for as long as HAM was in the sister car. All the best to him wherever he lands. Seems it won’t be a straight seat swap with RUS, but as a replacement for the retiring RAI…

  16. I agree with Lewis here, he really does have nothing to prove.

    As much everyone is and will continue to make this out as some Lewis v Fernando part 2, its hardly the same, primarily because is Lewis is the incumbent superstar who is at the tail end of his career, while George is the young charger. In 2007, Fernando may have been a double world champion, but he wasnt that much older than Lewis (4 years apart isnt all that much), and still had his whole career ahead of him.

    George will give Lewis a tough time, there is no doubt, in fact he may even beat Lewis. There is nothing wrong with that, we all know what a talent George is, which why he’s going to be at Merc. It will be a changing of the guard of sorts.

    Looking forward to this next year. I think the rivalry will be more interesting if Merc produce a car that isnt quite as quick next year.

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