George Russell’s throwaway Lewis Hamilton comment hints at main issue

Toto Wolff won’t have to worry about team dynamics for the time being with Mercedes still far away from challenging for race wins on a regular basis, but George Russell reminded the Silver Arrows team principal that the young Brit won’t back down in a fight with Lewis Hamilton. When Russell joined Mercedes for the start of the 2022 season, he would have expected to challenge at the front of the grid immediately.

The former Williams driver had spent his entire F1 career up until that point watching on as Hamilton dominated races with Valtteri Bottas also picking up Grand Prix wins. But his arrival has coincided with Mercedes struggling to adapt to the new regulations.

His biggest highlight by far came at last year’s Sao Paulo Grand Prix when he clinched the first race win of his career. However, Mercedes have failed to build on a promising end to last season for the start of 2023.

It looks as though both Russell and Hamilton will spend at least the new few months battling for the final podium spot with Ferrari and Aston Martin. That puts less pressure on Wolff having to worry about any team dynamics that would possibly occur if Mercedes were fighting at the front.

While Hamilton’s pedigree speaks for himself, Russell is seen as one of the most talented young drivers on the grid. And after outqualifying Hamilton for the Bahrain Grand Prix, Russell made a throwaway comment which indicated he’s more than ready to take the battle to his team-mate when push comes to shove.

“It’s meaningless,” Russell told Channel 4 after qualifying. “We’re here to win. I want to beat everybody.”

Hamilton ended up having the better start from lights out for Sunday’s race with Russell dropping behind his team-mate. But the 38-year-old was struggling to catch the Ferraris ahead of him with Russell jumping on team radio in a bid to get his team-mate to move out of the way.

“Is Lewis managing or is he slow? Because I feel like I have a bit more pace,” he asked. Hamilton had a harmonious relationship with Bottas, although that appeared partly due to the Finn’s inability to challenge the Brit regularly.

But Hamilton has shown his spiky side in the past with previous team-mates – namely Fernando Alonso and Nico Rosberg – when he’s in for a fight with a driver in the same garage and challenging for race wins. It doesn’t appear to be a problem for Mercedes at the moment, but there will be an expectation that they return to the front sooner rather than later.

And Wolff will have to work out a way to keep the two Brits working harmoniously to avoid a repeat of the feisty Hamilton and Rosberg team dynamics.

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