Lewis Hamilton and George Russell ‘honeymoon period’ won’t last long – Damon Hill

George Russell joins Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes

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Damon Hill believes the honeymoon won’t last long between Lewis Hamilton and George Russell at Mercedes, especially when the gloves come off next season.

After months of rumours, it was finally announced that Russell would race for the seven-time world champions in an all-British line-up at the Brackley-based German team, replacing Valtteri Bottas.

The 23-year-old is currently in his third season in Formula One driving for Williams, where he has impressed this season outperforming in one of the slowest cars on the grid, consistently getting into the third part of qualifying.

Addressing the media for the first time since the announcement, both Hamilton and Russell were complimentary of each other, with the promise of a harmonious partnership between the two, with no suggestion it would be anything like his relationship with former team-mate Nico Rosberg.

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However 1996 world champion Hill believes that could all change when the season gets underway in 2022.

“I described it as Team GB there with Lewis and George,” said Hill on Sky Sports F1.

“It’s great, but the honeymoon is very short-lived in this sport, when you get up to the sharp end of a team like Mercedes, who are used to being involved in a very tight battle, either amongst their own team, their own drivers for a World Championship, or against someone like Red Bull or Ferrari, then it all gets a little bit more serious.

“There’s a lot more pressure, will George be able to cope with it, we’re going to find out.

“I have to say he’s coped enormously well already, and he’s a very developed individual, confident and adept in many, many ways and mature.

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“The biggest problem he has, of course, is Lewis Hamilton, how is he going to deal with the GOAT of the competition.

“His record is superlative and he may even go on to become an eight-time world champion by the time we get to next year, if you can beat that then you’ve got something to shout about.

Bottas has yet to beat Hamilton over a single season but has won nine races and contributed to four constructors’ titles at his stay with the British Based German team, however, Hamilton has hailed the Finn as his “best team-mate I’ve had the pleasure of working with.”

Hamilton had a turbulent relationship with Rosberg, who did manage to beat the seven-time world champion to the title in 2016, albeit after tension on and off-track for the Mercedes duo.

But, speaking ahead of the Italian Grand Prix, Hamilton refused to pile any extra pressure on Russell ahead of his move from Williams but admits he doesn’t know what to expect from the 23-year-old as a team-mate.

“I don’t know what to expect from George, I definitely don’t put expectations on him,” stated the seven-time world champion.

“[He] is good, he is incredibly talented and he’s shown great speed, so I can’t indefinitely say that he’s going to be faster than Valtteri or slower than him, I’ve not raced against him.

“I’m sure he’s going to be very fast and as I said in the thing that I posted [on social media] I’m looking forward to seeing his growth and the speed that he brings and what he contributes to the team.”

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