Hamilton pleased by smooth start with “very genuine” new team mate Russell

2022 F1 season

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Lewis Hamilton says the arrival of his new Mercedes team mate for the 2022 Formula 1 season has been handled seamlessly.

George Russell, who substituted for Hamilton at the Sakhir Grand Prix in 2020, has replaced Valtteri Bottas in the team’s line-up for the new season.

It is the first change in the team’s regular driver line-up since Bottas took the place of Nico Rosberg at the end of 2016. Hamilton’s relationship with Rosberg was fractious at times, but he enjoyed a more harmonious five years alongside Bottas.

After six days of testing alongside Russell, Hamilton says the pair are off to a good start together.

“He’s gelled very easily into the team,” said Hamilton. “It has been pretty similar to [when] we worked together previously within in the engineering room for, I think, plenty of races in the past where he just sat behind me and I watched everything I did and the same with Valtteri.

“He knew everyone so it’s been seamless. We’re working together, communicating a lot in terms of set-up direction, so it’s working really well.”

Russell has been part of Mercedes’ young driver programme since 2017. That gave him an opportunity to work closely with Hamilton, until he made his own F1 debut with Williams in 2019.

“I have no idea when the first time we started working together was,” said Hamilton, “I just remember him being in the engineers room with us and feeling very much a part of the team and one of my team mates before this year. So it’s been quite easy.”

In his single previous start for Mercedes, Russell impressed by almost out-qualifying Bottas, passing him at the start and leading much of the race before a pit stop problem and puncture cost him a shot at victory. Hamilton had high praise for his one-time substitute’s ability.

“I think George is naturally incredibly talented, very, very focussed,” he said. “So far, it seems, very genuine and he’s just focussed on being the best team player he can be. That’s so far from what I see.

“As I say it’s pleasant for everyone in the team, it seems very seamless and everyone’s just working, keeping their heads down and working collectively as a team and as a unit.”

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61 comments on “Hamilton pleased by smooth start with “very genuine” new team mate Russell”

  1. RocketTankski
    17th March 2022, 7:26

    It’s all fun & games until the day we get “Lewis, George is faster than you…”
    “-But we’ve told him not to pass. Sold him the line about being on a different strategy.”

    1. They will be fine sorry 😛. If George is faster Lewis will take responsibility, and malicious speculation about it will have to be quietly buried, looking a bit stupid 🤫

      1. Looking a bit stupid ignoring the de facto situation.

        1. That’s right, or should we say quod est verum. An article all about Lewis being nice to George and someone stupidly has to try and pretend est aliquid aliud. Basically posting about their own needy issues, per se, quod erat demonstrandum and per ardua ad astra :)

          1. Carpe diem!

    2. To be fair he never had a bad relationship with Button when he beat him a fair few times and was outright faster on occasions. If he was slower all the time than Russell he might get defensive but I doubt that will be the case and it’s more likely Russell will have a number of races where he is just faster and Hamilton would accept that’s okay and maximise his own result on those days.

      1. Yes so true, look at Canada when JB put him in the wall and won the race, and afterwards Lewis went to him and just said “wrong time, wrong place”, and now you can hear how they still get on. And with George istr Lewis saying something along the lines of he’s ready to take a mentoring but slower role as age catches up with him. He’s very aware of getting older and what that means.

        1. Coventry Climax
          17th March 2022, 11:30

          No latin this time? You disappoint me.
          There’s a populist politician in the Netherlans that likes to use latin a lot. Makes him feel superior I suppose. For lack of other ways to achieve that.

          On the Hamilton-Russell relationship: only time will tell. But I already dislike how Hamilton says he likes how Russell sits behind him, observing how He (yes, sounds like with a capital) does everything.
          Used to like Hamilton a lot, when he started out in F1. Last couple of years, I’m not so sure anymore. And it has nothing to do with him being outspoken on matters of equality for everyone. It’s worked wonders for Vettel, of whom I never was much of a fan, but I like him a lot better lately.
          I like Russell at the moment, but with teachers like Hamilton and -especially- Wolf, he’ll have a hard time not to get infected. I can only hope he stays like he is.

          And now for the only thing that really matters: Their deeds in the car, on the track. We’ll see, but I’m suspecting Russell will do very, very well, to the point of being a concern for Hamilton and a headache for Wolf.

          1. But I already dislike how Hamilton says he likes how Russell sits behind him, observing how He (yes, sounds like with a capital) does everything.

            You’re miles away, Lewis was specifically referring to before Russell joined this year and even before he joined Williams.
            Russell also sat behind Bottas yet you’re not criticising Bottas.

            “It has been pretty similar to [when] we worked together previously within in the engineering room for, I think, plenty of races in the past where he just sat behind me and watched everything I did and the same with Valtteri”

          2. You can always get out-Latined erikje, owing to being able to de facto look anything up these days 👏

            I’ve heard this “used to like Lewis” line so often lol. Anyway if we all like George that’s cool. I’m curious to see how many Lewis ‘ex-likers’ transfer to him from Max, now there’s a choice.

          3. But I already dislike how Hamilton says he likes how Russell sits behind him, observing how He (yes, sounds like with a capital) does everything.

            I think you may need to re-read what was actually said. Lewis was speaking about the past years, with Russell sitting and observing how Lewis and Valteri did things.
            Don’t forget Russell has done test work with Merc for some years, so in effect he isn’t a new and total unknown and therefore the team feel comfortable with him there.

          4. No sure if it was his fault.
            I used the term de facto and while he looked it up he stumbled over some Latin frases he liked so much.
            Now he looks intelligent for some, so succes!

          5. Coventry Climax
            17th March 2022, 22:43

            @Zann: my bad, missed the ‘de facto’ by Erikje. That is such normal use it didn’t even register, apparently.
            On liking one driver or another: In my case, liking has nothing to do with appreciating their driver skills. I will not transfer, simply because there is noone to transfer from, and I do not see any reason to favor one driver more than another because of how they behave off-track.
            @SteveP: I don’t need to reread that because I understood perfectly well. Still sounded condescending though.
            @erikje: it’s phrases, not frases.

    3. Richard Gibson
      17th March 2022, 13:02

      I think there are a number of drivers that could apply to, Lewis isn’t one of them (yet anyway)

  2. If they car isnt really able to fight for wins [as they are admitting], then i see not problem of with team chemistry here. Maximization of points for the team will supersede individual goals until get to the top step frequently. Beyond, its quite fair for George to be Sir Lewis’ understudy for a year and then get on equal terms.

    1. @webtel – or do what Hamilton did to Alonso… we’ll find out soon enough.

    2. Beyond, its quite fair for George to be Sir Lewis’ understudy for a year and then get on equal terms.

      As @icarby rightly points out, that’s not how that works.

      If George is as quick as Lewis or quicker, he will need to assert himself.

      1. @proesterchen
        I wouldnt be so sure. George might be quicker but Mercedes will go out of their way, as much as possible to ensure that there is indeed a lead driver in the eyes of many. It is in their best interest to do so…Sir may sign may sign for another year and then Merc can exert greater control rather than the way it currently is–which is Sir dictating terms a bit.

    3. If the car does not deliver we know what will happen with lewis.
      Look at 2016 and the allegations he made.. Stress and Lewis are a toxic combination.

  3. The only time the fans have seen a genuine Russell was after his crash with Bottas at Imola.
    At other times he suffers from the same problem that Coulthard or Paul di Resta have, overly professional and media trained to the point of emotionless robot.

    But Coulthard has shown after his F1 days, he actually isn’t an emotionless robot, but a genuinely fun and interesting person.
    It’s a shame that F1 media and mediatraining push racer’s personality down to the point of non existence.

  4. Rewind back to 2014 and it was the same story. Of course Hamilton isn’t the same as he was back then and Russell isn’t Rosberg

    1. 2014 was totally different.

      Rosberg had spent the past four seasons helping the team develop the monster that was going to be the W05, had endured some pretty miserable cars, and with Schumacher stepping down, quite rightly expected to take over as the main driver.

      And then Hamilton, who’d always been that one driver who could consistently beat Rosberg, shows up, and in spite of predictions that Rosberg, as the “engineer’s driver” would better adapt to the new cars, Hamilton very quickly adapted to the new cars and how best to drive them.

      Rosberg’s chances of being a multiple world champion went up in smoke in Singapore when Niki Lauda showed up at Hamilton’s hotel room in 2012, and Rosberg knew it.

      That’s a lot of resentment.

    2. Coventry Climax
      17th March 2022, 12:00

      If Russell really is the talent they say he is, he’ll wisely do his own thing and nothing else. He will not allow himself to be distracted by anything, including media talks like in this article, which can very easily be, or turn into, a means to gently massage Russel into capitulation.
      Look at Verstappen. Like him or not, but he is extremely focussed and undeterred by what others say, write or do.

  5. It is possible to ‘ruffle Lewis’ feathers’, Jenson did it on occasion (and as is often pointed out, out scored him in their time together, and perhaps Lewis’ worse seasons were alongside Jenson), Nico certainly did, Fernando didn’t just ruffle it was like a fox got in to coop.

    Heikki and Valterri did everything expected from a no.2. And never challenged him in any meaningful way.

    It’s a big ask for George to be on pace with Lewis. But if he can, and Toto perhaps being more accommodating to having two No.1’s since the age difference between them and a view to the future. It’ll be interesting to see if they’re still friends come the seasons end. George comes across as very laid back (as does Nico), but if the opportunity arose, I wouldn’t be surprised if he stuck his elbows out.

    1. Lewis being the fox i assume you meant?

    2. I think even Button has said that the Hamilton he drove alongside is a different person to the current one and he’d never get away with some of the mental games he used to pull on him. I don’t think they ever had a unhealthy relationship though, I think most of Hamilton’s issues at Mclaren in the end were with the management team.

    3. Jenson lost 2 out of 3 seasons to Hamilton, in spite of managing to turn McLaren into “his” team. That statistic that should be the gold standard for how statistics allow you to lie with certainty, only exists because 2011 was such a bad year for Hamilton in general.

      And since 2011 was the year that convinced Hamilton to get his act together, it resulted in Hamilton driving circles around Button in 2012, in spite of the team’s best efforts.

      1. Button outscored Hamilton over 3 seasons, that’s just a fact. It means over 3 years he got more out of the equipment he was given. There is no lie in that statement, it’s fact whether you like it or not. I’m also not sure how Hamilton scoring 2 points more in 2012 meant he drove circles round Button. I think you may might be rewriting history to suit some agenda there. Of course Hamilton is a better driver than Button but during their time together it wasn’t the blow out everyone predicted beforehand. Just give Button the credit he deserves and stop it with the excuses.

        1. There simply is no three year championship!

          What is wrong with people?

          JB was firmly beaten but put up a good fight. You know, one pole ever in three years and being out qualified 30 times not including the crazy Macca screw ups.

          Get over it people.

          He was the only person making it interesting in the RB roller coaster years.

          1. Is it really surprising Hamilton outqualified Button that often but then seemed to go backwards in races? It’s almost like he had a faster car in qualifying but then had worse race pace….

            Facts are facts, he didn’t blow Button away at all in their time together. Points are the only metric that matters and he didn’t soundly beat Button. He was clearly an inferior driver then to what he has been in the last 5 years.

        2. I’m also not sure how Hamilton scoring 2 points more in 2012 meant he drove circles round Button.

          Maybe 2012 being a decade ago makes you think we’ve all forgotten how that season actually went for the two Mclaren drivers :-)

      2. Great, manipulation of facts does not really help your narrative.

    4. I have seen some revision before but ‘out scored him’?

      44 to 14 in quals

      Two seasons to the one bad year he has ever had. One in which he won the same number of races as JB and just for giggles was the only other pole sitter than RB all year. Actually his worst year was better than anyone else’s full stop.

      As for 2012 – he was lapping JB! Enough said.

      1. As said earlier, 2 points difference. Irrelevant if he lapped Button or not. Button’s driving style meant when his setup was bad he was nowhere, he never could drive round an issue. For all his extra speed, he didn’t get the points.

        1. You need to watch 2012 again

          Buttton was completely destroyed that year and the points issue is only there because of the shatteringly bad management and reliability of the car.

          If there had been half the help button got given things would have been very different.

          Just the three races of DNF while in the lead or the Hulks ridiculous move in Brazil would have seen to that!

          Come on – there was not a single outlet that year that did not determine that LH lost in excess of 100+ points due to team or reliability errors.

  6. It’s all fun and games until we end with a situation like Alonso and Hamilton at McLaren.

    1. Lewis played a straight bat all that season. He was a rookie and Alonso was the best in the business. The only person who got out of shape was Alonso

  7. Weren’t Rosberg and Hamilton literally best buds since childhood until 2014?

    1. @brum55 I don’t think they were ‘best buds’, they were teammates in Formula A in 2000. But in a climate where everyone knew everyone. Suzie Stoddart / Wolff was on that grid, you draw a connection there. It’s more a mild coincidence Nico and Lewis they became teammates again later on, I think the childhood friendship thing is played up a bit.

      1. They lived together for a year and were definitely more than just colleagues/ rivals. But friends fall out, it happens

    2. @brum55 Best buds is probably an exaggeration, they were good mates akin to maybe a Leclerc and Gasly now.

  8. Netflix will have a field day with this.

  9. All teammates are good, smooth nice.. Right up until they are faster than you.

    If George is 2 tenths slower like nearly all Lewis teammates, then things will be smooth.

    1. Question is tho, have Merc hobbled GR just like they did VB?

  10. It’ll be really interesting to see how things develop for this pairing over the year, and I think the relative comptetitiveness of the Mercedes is going to be a big factor. We haven’t seen Hamilton really being put under genuine pressure over a season by a teammate since Rosberg, and I would like to think that his experiences over the years since would have given him some perspective and ability to deal a little better if that sort of situation were to arise again.

    In the end, for all the public smiles and friendliness, F1 drivers are a ruthless and single-minded breed, by very definition, and I’m sure both drivers will want to stamp their authority this year. It’ll give a fascinating dynamic to the season.

    1. I’d argue against the idea and suggest a minor altering your statement; “We haven’t seen Hamilton really being put under genuine pressure CONSISTENTLY over a season by a teammate since Rosberg”
      Bottas could be insanely quick on his day, but never consistently enough to stand a chance of challenging for a championship.

  11. I worry that Russell is too nice and will be chewed up by Lewis.

  12. I’ve always thought George comes across as anything but genuine.
    Interesting times ahead.

    1. CheeseBucket
      17th March 2022, 23:38

      Then you’re a twit.

  13. Lets see how MB will handle the two drivers this season. Hope that Russell is not treated as a second driver. I guess they will treat them equal but put the focus on Hamilton for the WDC at the start of the year. Only if Russell is in a much better position half way the season this focus will shift to him. The big question is what will MB do to prevent two dogs fighting and RB or Ferrari walks away with the title.

  14. I don’t think Russell will be too bothered playing the wingman this year. If Hamilton were able to secure his 8th WDC last year then yes I would say team orders would be minimal. But I think Hamilton will be prioritised to win the championship, and that will have been made clear to Russell. Unless something unusual happens like Hamilton being taken out several times by another driver.

  15. “…plenty of races in the past where he just sat behind me and I watched everything I did and the same with Valtteri.”
    Well, I do hope you always watch everything you do, it’s safer that way. Same for Bottas.

  16. I read some comments here about the driver pairing. I must say I feel a bit surprised there are that many that think Russell will be on Hamilton.. even beating him according to that poll (31%). I think that is way too optimistic. I feel confident he’ll be an improvement on Bottas over the season. But we still need to see him battling a faster bunch of drivers. Especially if the cars are not quite there yet the first few races.

    I feel the only realistic shot Russell has on beating Hamilton is when Mercedes are actually the 3rd or 4th car and Red Bull is on top. A scenario where Hamilton thinks about stopping after this season, half way through or something.

    1. Russell’s good, there’s no two ways about it, but I agree that it’s overly optimistic to think he’ll be instantly beating Hamilton race after race.
      I couldn’t see Hamilton stopping mid season.

      1. I didn’t mean stopping mid season, but if Mercedes are actually right this year and their car is a dog, would you say Hamilton would be as motivated to fight for p5 and p4 in the championship? I doubt that. It’s the record breaking 8th title or nothing for him I feel.

  17. Now, if only Lewis was genuine too, could be a great relationship. (:

  18. I can’t see anything but a clash if Russell is competitive. So far, Russell has beat a disabled teammate that is a decade past his prime, a pay driver and had an almost good race against a driver that could not compete will Lewis on his best day, unless Lewis was having his worst.

    I hope George is competitive, especially if Mercedes is as dominant as it has been, because we need competition between the top teams. I also hope Perez kicks it up several notches and is close to Verstappen every race.

    It’d be great if George is a super talent, in the same way Lewis was, so we could have 2 phenomenal drivers in the same team at the same time and giving no quarter. Lewis’ first year in McLaren up against Alonso was exciting, and there hasn’t been that sort of buzz for a long time. But in a way it would be so much better if they plucked Piastri or someone similar out of F2 and they hammered Lewis, Verstappen etc, that would give us new blood and a real level of unexpected excitement back into F1.

    1. @jasonjasonjason

      Russell also did very well in the race where he got to drive a Mercedes against Bottas. Of course, it was only 1 race, but he still did very well.

  19. Oh no. 2 massive cynics in one team. I’m going to enjoy watching how ugly it is going to get.

  20. Something about that photo just speaks ‘not on friendly terms by the end of the season.’
    No wish for them to fall out, but I’ll be hugely disappointed, and somewhat surprised, if there aren’t fireworks on track. This is George’s big chance for the big time and he’s smart enough to know that no top driver ever evolved from number 2 to number 1. It’s not like Lewis himself (or Max or Charles Leclerc) didn’t show the path that needs to be taken…

  21. Anon A. Mouse
    17th March 2022, 18:10

    People sure are willing this driver pairing to fail.

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