Russell ‘not getting comfortable’ ahead of Hamilton, ‘I know what he’s capable of’

2022 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix

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George Russell isn’t taking his position ahead of Lewis Hamilton for granted despite beating his illustrious team mate again at Imola.

While Hamilton struggled to 13th, Russell scored a surprise fourth, aided by a rapid start from 11th on the grid. Russell said the circumstances of the race explain why he was able to finish so far ahead of his championship-winning team mate.

“I think it’s just how things fall out, sometimes, in a race weekend,” said Russell. “I made a very strong start, I don’t know what happened to him at the start.”

After four races, Russell now leads Hamilton by 49 points to 28. Both drivers have similar problems with Mercedes’ W13, which porpoises excessively at high speeds, forcing them into set-up compromises.

“We are equally struggling when the car is so far out of bed and it’s not in the right window,” said Russell. “It didn’t really feel like a proper racing car to drive.

“Especially we’re struggling with the tyre warm-up. On Friday was 13 degrees and it was just a nightmare to drive.”

Russell has no doubt he will face a more competitive team mate over the remainder of the season. “I expect him to come back so strong,” he said. “The way he’s pushing and motivating the team is inspiring. I’m not getting comfortable in this position because I know what he’s capable of.”

However Russell admitted he may be at a slight advantage over Hamilton as he has driven uncompetitive cars in recent seasons.

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“Perhaps with my struggles at Williams, driving very difficult cars, maybe that’s helped in some small regard,” said Russell. “Q1 and Q2 for us now is massively important, whereas previously for Mercedes, that was a breeze, almost like a build-up session getting ready for Q3.

Race start, Imola, 2022
Gallery: 2022 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix in pictures
“Lewis is going to come back incredibly strong I have no doubt and he’s definitely going to be pushing me all the way.”

Team principal Toto Wolff praised Russell’s contribution to the team since his arrival at Mercedes, saying it has been one of few bright spots in their difficult start to the season.

“I’m very impressed with how he’s settled in, how professional and analytically he helps to assess the situation,” he said. “The combination [of drivers], that’s the one of the very few highlights that I have at the moment on our journey here, how the two of them work together with no friction. On the contrary, very, very productive and positive for the team, and I couldn’t be happier with the driver line-up.

“But in that respect, I think we have the two best drivers or two of the maybe three best drivers, and they deserve a car and a power unit that makes them fight them in the front rather than being lapped. That’s not what any of them deserves.”

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2022 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix

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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...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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19 comments on “Russell ‘not getting comfortable’ ahead of Hamilton, ‘I know what he’s capable of’”

  1. That’s the way George …. keep it diplomatic ….. let the results do the talking ;)

  2. That’s not important now. Help the team develop that car before focusing on the fight with Hamilton.

    1. @krichelle I’m afraid it’s not quite like that in F1. It’s always important beating your team mate. Especially if you are new in the team. The team needs to know that when they sort out the car you are the man to bring in the goods. Once a driver is beaten consistently by their teammate , it’s over for them in F1. Vettel is an example. In 2014 he’s got beaten by Ricciardo and that was it for him. George needs to keep this up throughout the season, so Mercedes know he is the next main man.

  3. I look at interest in Chelsea FC part ownership as a clue to LH’s mindset, a future involved in sport after retirement from F1. Equally the close co-operation with GR on car development points at a wish to preserve his record of winning a race in every season he has participated in. Ergo full team co-operation is the best chance of achieving this. The fact that GR is more competitive overall so far says another championship is unlikely this year even with a massive car improvement, being a graceful Mercedes team player followed by retirement is therefore the pragmatic option.

    1. man can’t just snatch a business opportunity just handed to him on a silver platter without others hyper analyzing it huh?
      I’m not the biggest Ferrari fan but if someone reputable asked me to help seed a consortium that guarantees me a board of directors seat at the table and I can afford it, why the heck would i not take it? My other colleagues seem to be grabbing this opportunity with both hands and we seem to share the same interests and passion.

      Occam’s razor my guy, Occam’s razor

  4. George is simply doing to Lewis what he has been to all of his previous team-mates.
    Once the car starts to be developed with both drivers in mind and not only Lewis, George will take over as the number one.

  5. After 4 races Russell has more points than Bottas did last year – 49 compared to 47. In fact he has more points than Bottas did after 6 rounds.

    1. Which says a lot than just raw points, considering how much better, comparatively, the Merc was last year.

      1. Indeed, massive difference in driver performance at merc for russell vs bottas.

  6. George seemed to have a reputation as a bad starter in that Williams. I’d argue that’s where Latifi actually had the better of him on many race starts.

    But whenever George is in the Merc, either 2020 or this year, he seems to be starting really well.

    Wonder whether there’s anything in the starting procedures in the Williams that George just didn’t resonate with?

    1. Race pace also seems to be relatively better when he’s in merc.

  7. ThreePurpleSectors (@)
    25th April 2022, 20:46

    Did anyone notice the difference in brake ducts between car 44 and 63? On GR car the inside ducts were taped up to generate brake temp and tire temp quicker.

    Props to GR for getting the results. This weekend was all about getting temp into the tires and being in the right place at the right time.

  8. Mercedes will find itself in a slightly awkward situation if they somehow resolve their porpoising issue and get to terms with Red Bull and Ferrari. Surely they’d just have to back George given the deficit already.

  9. LH should have retired last year to save him from humiliation. Things will only get worse for him I think.

  10. So, is Russell faster than the greatest driver of all time, or is Hamilton not that special after all?

    He’s still in time to avoid the ALO/RAI/VET sad path of decline and exposure, though, and enjoy his vegan burgers and high fashion hippity-hop stuff.

  11. george has had the Rub of green so far, out of the 2 of them

  12. The points alone dont tell the whole truth. It looks far worse than it actually is. But reality is that they ahould be more closer together. In pure race conditions lewis has had the better of russel in my opinion. Russel has just been in the right place at the right time. The luck is on his side for now.

  13. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
    26th April 2022, 20:12

    Up until this weekend there’s been nothing to separate them really. I just think Lewis had one of his down weekends out of frustration which we have seen over the years when it just doesn’t click with a diva car. George is relishing the opportunity, he’s used to fighting from the back, whereas at this point in Lewis’ career it will understandably be an “If I can’t win I don’t want to play” attitude he’s done it all. However I’m sure it will all switch if the car is performing at the sharp end. That being said George has been exceptional and Father Time catches up with us all. No matter how well you can fight time, there’s no way you can have better reactions at 37 than in your 20’s.

    1. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
      26th April 2022, 20:13

      Just to add. Lewis has always been famous for coming out swinging after being beaten by a teammate. Let’s see what’s he can do in Miami.

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