September 25, 2021

Hamilton predicts Russell will ‘bring the heat’ at Mercedes | 2021 Italian Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton predicts a strong challenge from George Russell at Mercedes next year but believes the pair can have a harmonious relationship.

Russell’s move to the world champions was confirmed earlier this week. He has impressed since arriving in Formula 1 with Williams in 2019, and surprised by qualifying second on the grid at Spa in very wet conditions last month.

Hamilton said he paid attention to Russell’s rise through the junior categories, including his championship successes in GP3 (now Formula 3) and Formula 2. “I’ve watched a lot of the racing that he’s done, moves that he’s done,” said Hamilton. “There’s no doubt that he’s incredibly talented.

“I’ve not looked into detail where he’s weak or… that’s not something I really put much energy towards. I just know he’s going to continue to get stronger even in these next nine races and next year again he’ll be bringing the heat, for sure.”

Russell is part of an exciting new generation of talent in Formula 1, Hamilton added. “He’s a part of that younger group, I think the young talent that’s coming through is so great for the sport and it’s the future of the sport.

“I think new, fresh blood in our team is going to be great, obviously because I’m the oldie there. I think that definitely will energise the whole team, knowing that they have a new youngster coming through who’s super-hungry, driven and will be pushing the team forwards.”

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While Hamilton has had difficult relationships in the past with some team mates, notably Nico Rosberg at Mercedes and Fernando Alonso at McLaren, he is confident that can be avoided after Russell’s arrival.

“It’s different in each team ultimately how it’s managed. It’s quite a strange sport where it’s a team sport, but it’s also an individual sport, so you’ve got those two championships. Individually, you want to finish ahead, but at the same time you’ve got to do the job to get the team ahead.

“So it’s a difficult one to navigate through. But I like to think that we’ve experienced it and learned from it and therefore should be pretty well-set moving forwards.”

During Mercedes’ deliberations over who to hire, Hamilton said he gave positive feedback on both Russell and current team mate Valtteri Bottas, and did not try to block Russell’s appointment.

“That’s not really my style, I think. Ever since I joined this team, I remember joining in 2013 and I remember saying to Ross [Brawn, team principal] that I just want equal opportunity.

“That’s the most rewarding position to be in because if you do the work and you do succeed, then you know you’ve done your job against whoever it is at their best. Winning when someone’s wings are clipped, that’s not something that interests me.”

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