The Mercedes Formula 1 duo of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell have shared the F1 track for two seasons, but the question remains: if it came down to it, who would Mercedes prefer?
An insider has now shed light on the hierarchy within the Mercedes team, revealing a fascinating dynamic.
Year of contrasts
This season, the standings tell a simple story – for now. Lewis Hamilton currently sits third in the drivers’ championship with 190 points, while his team-mate George Russell is seventh with 115. Last season, however, the roles were reversed. Russell (275) convincingly outperformed the veteran Hamilton (240) in an impressive debut year for Mercedes.
Do both Mercedes drivers have the same status within the team? Are they really on an equal footing? Former F1 driver and Mercedes simulator driver, Anthony Davidson, offers a crucial perspective on the matter.
Davidson asserts: “There is definitely a hierarchy in this team, and rightly so. At the top of that hierarchy, according to the insider, is Lewis Hamilton. “
“Lewis has earned that status in the team as a seven-time world champion and there’s nothing George can do about it…”
Role of understudy
Despite his impressive debut in 2022, George Russell remains the understudy for 2023, according to Davidson. However, Davidson is adamant that the term shouldn’t be taken in a negative way.
Russell’s approach, according to Davidson, is respectful yet determined.
“He does a very good job when he has the speed to take on Hamilton, but he does it in a George Russell-like, polite way, which is quite funny to watch because I know he’s angry and short-tempered in the car when he can’t find a way around,” Davidson reveals, offering a glimpse into the 25-year-old challenger’s emotional world.
Title fight: A personal battle
Should Mercedes challenge for the championship next season, the showdown between Hamilton and Russell could intensify significantly, warns Davidson. When the title is on the line, personal and competitive motivations can collide, often overriding team orders.
Davidson explains, “It becomes much more personal and competitive when you are fighting for a championship than when you are fighting for positions, like at the recent Japanese GP. In such high-stakes situations, the desire to beat your teammate takes precedence over team orders,”
Germany’s Sport.de F1 pundit Felix Görner echoes these sentiments, highlighting the potential for conflict and fireworks at Mercedes. Görner predicts that the Hamilton-Rosberg rivalry could be revived if both drivers were to race for the world championship, with a real risk of clashes.
Görner concludes, “This will inevitably come to a head because Russell wants to and can become world champion with Mercedes, and because the two are often so close to each other, operating thousandths of a second apart. The intense competition between Hamilton and Russell could define the next chapter for Mercedes in F1…”
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