With both Lewis Hamilton and George Russell committed to Mercedes until the end of 2025, Sky F1 analyst Natalie Pinkham speculates on an impending change in the team dynamic, particularly with regard to Russell’s desire to establish his authority within the team.
During her appearance on the F1 Nation podcast, Pinkham explored the dynamic between the two British drivers.
“There’s a fascinating relationship between Lewis, a seven-time world champion, and George Russell, who’s now out of his rookie years and cementing his place in the team,” said Pinkham.
Pinkham suggests that recent on-track tensions between Hamilton and Russell signal Russell’s desire to stand out. This urge to stand out was particularly evident after his self-confessed error at the Singapore Grand Prix, a mistake Russell described as “rookieish”.
In the 2022 season, Russell finished an impressive P4 in the Drivers’ Championship, ahead of Hamilton, who finished P6.
Hamilton has been a force of nature in F1, with a track record most drivers can only dream of. To see him surpassed by his younger teammate raises compelling questions about the future. Russell, who has been impressing the F1 world during his time at Williams, will finally have a car worthy of his talent in 2022.
Hamilton, known for his consistency and racing skills, rarely leaves room for teammates to overshadow him. From his early days with Fernando Alonso to his years with Nico Rosberg and then Valtteri Bottas, Hamilton has always been the driver to beat within his own team. But Russell’s victory over Hamilton wasn’t just a rookie’s day in the sun; it was a calculated triumph that took into account tyre strategy, race pace and team dynamics.
In the current season, however, he trails Hamilton by a massive 75 points. Rumours of friction between the pair were particularly prevalent during the Japanese Grand Prix, with both appearing to prioritise individual position over team strategy.
Contrary to the rumour mill
Despite the gossip, Russell has always insisted that their relationship is more collaborative than competitive.
“There’s a huge amount of mutual respect between Lewis and myself,” Russell said in an interview with Autohebdo, the French newspaper.
“The dynamic works because we’re at different stages of our careers. The friction that usually occurs between teammates usually happens when they are from the same generation or at a similar level.”\
The succession issue
Commenting on Russell’s current state of mind, Pinkham explained:
“He’s not intimidated by Lewis. What I see is a driver who’s mature, level-headed and capable of self-criticism, much like Charles Leclerc. According to Pinkham, Russell sees himself as the logical successor to Hamilton, with the only question being the timing of that transition.”
Russell has a clear future with Mercedes and he knows it.
“I am not here to fight for the number one spot in the team. My fight is for the best position on the grid. My future is with this team, so there’s no rivalry,” he confirmed.
While it’s still uncertain when George Russell will step up to the plate at Mercedes, it’s clear that he has the ability, the attitude and the long-term contract to make it a distinct possibility.
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