George Russell joins Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes
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George Russell will be joining Mercedes billed as future star of F1, but has been told he could soon be worn down by partnering Lewis Hamilton. The 23-year-old will leave Williams at the end of this season to replace Valtteri Bottas at the reigning Constructors’ champions, forming a mouth-watering all British partnership with seven-time world champion Hamilton for the 2022 season.
David Coulthard however, has sounded a warning to Russell, who has been of a competitive teammate to battle with during his three seasons at Williams where he’s raced alongside Robert Kubica and current colleague Nicholas Latifi.
Speaking on Channel 4, where he works as an F1 presenter, Coulthard said the pressures of partnership Hamilton will be huge – but also suggested it could be the making of Russell.
“In the beginning, he will just be young and full of energy. He will be fresh and then he will get worn down by the relentlessness of Lewis, and that’s the point at which he will grow as a man.”
Coulthard, 50, also didn’t hesitate when asked if things would ‘kick off’ between the pair.
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“It will, absolutely,” he replied. “It will be the making of George up against the driver of a couple of generations.
“This is where George Russell becomes the making of a future world champion. Because he hasn’t been pushed by any of his team-mates, it will be very different with Lewis.”
Hamilton, 36, has been glowing in his praise of the outgoing Bottas, who he’s partnered for five seasons following the shock retirement of Nico Rosberg at the end of the 2016 season.
His relationship with the German driver however, became steadily more volatile after he joined Mercedes in 2013, and the pair clashed frequently as they battled it out for the 2014, 2015, and 2016 world titles.
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Russell rose to prominence ast last month’s Belgian Grand Prix with a sensational display in qualifying, securing second place on the grid behind Championship leader Max Verstappen, and ahead of Hamilton.
When adverse weather meant only two safety car led laps were possible the following day, it meant a first ever podium finish for the Norfolk man.
He also replaced Hamilton in a Mercedes for the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix, when the F1 veteran was ruled out with Covid-19. An impressive display was scuppered by tyre problems but he still managed an eventual ninth-placed finish.
At Monza recently, he was asked about the prospect of racing alongside Hamilton, and dismissed the speculation that their rivalry could turn out to be a volatile affair.
“Throughout my junior careers there were a number of drivers who I was very close with on pace and very often very close with on track,” said Russell.
“There’s no reason why there would be any falling outs or anything. I’m sure we’re going to race each other respectfully, but hard as well at the same time, as Lewis and Valtteri have over the past five years.
“Lewis and I have got a really great relationship. We’re at different stages of our careers and we have got one goal next year which is to develop the car and push it forward and make sure that we, as two drivers, give ourselves the best chance of having the fastest race car.
“The only way we’re going to do that is by working together to develop that.”
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