Should Mercedes be back in the hunt in 2023, Lewis Hamilton is not foreseeing his relationship with George Russell becoming a “problem” for the team.
The two Brits enjoyed a relatively harmonious first season together as team-mates at Mercedes, perhaps eased by the fact the team were not in regular contention for race victories or either World Championship, taking something of an ‘edge’ off the competitiveness between the two.
Both drivers worked well together to try and help Mercedes iron out their early-season problems in their quest to catch up to Red Bull and Ferrari, Hamilton in particular opting to radically experiment with his car in the early races as the team searched for answers to alleviate the problem of ‘porpoising’ from the W13.
Hamilton’s relationship with former team-mate Nico Rosberg famously grew increasingly tense over the course of their time together, with the Mercedes duo fighting among themselves for the Drivers’ title in 2014, ’15 and ’16.
But now that time has passed and Hamilton’s stint with the team will stretch into its 11th season in 2023, the seven-time World Champion is expecting a smoother time of things if the W14 has title-winning potential for both drivers.
“I’m a lot older and I’ve been with the team so long, so managing whatever challenges we come up with moving forward, we’ve been through so much that I don’t think it’s going to be a problem,” Hamilton said to reporters in Brazil.
Russell would lead Hamilton home in a Mercedes one-two in the team’s only win of the 2022 season, with both drivers free to race in the closing stages at Interlagos.
Russell’s consistency and pace in the early part of the year in particular gave him a big points lead over his illustrious team-mate and, despite Hamilton closing the gap after the summer break, Russell became only the third driver to beat Hamilton over the course of the year in equal machinery, by finishing 35 points up in the Drivers’ Championship.
Russell himself expects a “different dynamic” could come to Mercedes if they are back at the front next year, but he also feels conflict is unlikely at the team in 2023.
When asked about his team-mate’s credentials and how he has been able to work with Mercedes, Hamilton was effusive in his praise for the job he has done.
“I’ve seen what he did at Williams,” he said. “I think naturally you have to say it’s impressive what he’s done this year, the consistency he’s had, how he’s arrived and just hit the ground running.
“It’s not like he arrived in a completely brand-new team. The previous couple of years he was sitting right behind me watching the work that I was doing with the engineers, with Riki [Riccardo Musconi], who is now his number one.
“It’s been super easy to blend in. He uses my steering wheel, and he’s obviously got to do the test days prior to the year, so I think he’s just blended in perfectly and he’s been a positive force in the team.
“He’s helped keep the equilibrium in the team, in terms of the working relationship I think it’s strong.”
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