George Russell joins Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes
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Former Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg has warned Lewis Hamilton that the dynamics at the team may change with George Russell alongside him after the 23-year-old replaces Valtteri Bottas next season.
After months of rumours about the Briton joining the team, Mercedes finally made it official on Tuesday ahead of the Italian Grand Prix, just a day after Bottas announced he would be moving to Alfa Romeo to replace the retiring Kimi Raikkonen.
Yet Rosberg has warned Hamilton that the dynamics may be increasingly different from what he’s grown accustomed to alongside Bottas these past five years.
“The positive [for Russell] is he has nothing to lose and everything to gain because you’re up against the best of all time,” said Rosberg on Sky F1.
“Nobody expects you to destroy him but if you manage to, you’ll be the absolute biggest hero of all time.
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“That’s what makes it so difficult for Lewis because he’s got this young gun who’s never won anything coming in, so Lewis can only lose actually.
“He’s the greatest, and imagine this young gun starts to beat him…that’s a really uncomfortable situation to be in.”
Despite being a strong team-mate, Bottas was unable to beat Hamilton across a single season as the Briton dominated the past seven years alongside Mercedes.
Rosberg meanwhile was the only driver to have beaten Hamilton during the current turbo-hybrid era in 2016.
The pair however shared a turbulent relationship at Mercedes, and the German is aware of how difficult it will be for Russell to be alongside one of the all-time greats of Formula One.
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“The challenge for George is also in that first wheel-to-wheel battle,” added Rosberg. “Does he yield or does he stick in there?
“That’s so difficult because if he sticks in there and [a collision] is entirely his fault, that would be a disastrous start to his time at Mercedes.
“But if he sticks in there and it’s not his fault and more Lewis’ fault, it would be a giant boost for the confidence and to really calm Lewis, so it’s such a difficult one to manage.
“It’s such a fine line. Valtteri has been too conservative throughout five years, so he’s got it a bit wrong. There are other examples of being a bit too aggressive, so it’s such a fine line.”
Hamilton trails Max Verstappen by three points this season in the driver’s standings as he looks to secure a record-breaking seventh world title, with the Italian Grand Prix up next this weekend.
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