The 2022 Formula One season was one of intrigue if not outright down to the wire excitement. The drivers’ championship was won with 4 races to go, not on the last lap of the last race as it was the previous season.
However, 2022 threw up a few surprises and only the 17th driver in Max Verstappen to win multiple F1 world championships. One of the early season shocks was how well George Russell faired against his 7 time world champion team mate Lewis Hamilton.
Hamilton well beaten by Russell in 2022
Hamilton seemed to get off to a flyer in Bahrain with a P3 podium, mostly due to 2 Red Bull DNF’s, but then his team mate when on a streak of top 5 finishes which eclipsed Hamilton’s efforts. This saw George Russell 37 points clear of his team mate following the race in Baku.
Whilst Hamilton battled back over the closing third of the year and finished third in 3 of the last 4 races, Russell came home at the end of the year 35 points ahead of his world champion team mate.
Russell also claimed Mercedes sole victory in Brazil, a circuit where Hamilton has traditionally fared well.
Lewis needs to “up his game this year”
Speaking to Total-Motorsport, Johnny Herbert believes Lewis Hamilton must up his game this year or Russell will take the “reigns away from him.”
“I think Lewis started last year probably a little bit frustrated, knowing the car wasn’t great,” said Herbert.
“I don’t think he had the right mental approach because he was probably frustrated, as a racing driver would be as a seven-time world champion, trying to get eighth, which was taken away from him.”
Herbert believes Hamilton will need to have used this year’s winter break to come back stronger.
Pressure from Russell a motivating factor
“Now, that opportunity has reset to get himself mentally and physically prepared.
“It’s a good thing, maybe for Lewis, knowing that the pressure is going to be really hot from George.
“It can be a very positive thing for a driver to know your team-mate is going to be strong, to be pushed. You know you need to up your game straightaway.
“Lewis has done that in the past but he’s coming to the end of his career.
“Things change as you get older and when you have a young whippersnapper coming in, who’s hungry for that success, there is going to be a crossover at some point.
“Will that be this year? I would be surprised. But I think it’s going to be a mighty, tight tussle with George very hungry to try and take the reins away from Lewis, who won’t give up very easily as well. That’s what we want.”
After many tough F1 seasons, Hamilton’s bouncebackability is questionable
Hamilton has fought a number of tough battles over his career, the first in season 1 with his team mate Fernando Alonso. The McLaren pair tied for P2 in the championship in 2007 although in team fighting handed the drivers’ championship to Kimi Raikkonen.
Jenson Button was a strong challenge to Lewis for the three years they spent together at McLaren and of course Lewis battled for 4 long seasons with Nico Rosberg who mostly pushed him all the way and won the drivers’ championship in 2016 before retiring.
2021 was another tough year for the British driver as he battled all year to stay in the title race with Max Verstappen, only to lose out because his team failed to pit him under the safety car at the final; race.
So how much ‘bounceback-ability’ Lewis Hamilton has left in the tank is questionable. Lewis place in Formula One is cemented forever yet one thing is for certain, if Russell beats him again this season as Herbert suggests, the reigns of power at Mercedes may start changing hands.