Lewis Hamilton on difficult season for Mercedes in November
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Lewis Hamilton’s ex-team-mate Valtteri Bottas did not predict George Russell’s standout year at Mercedes. Ahead of the 2022 season, Bottas claimed he didn’t see “anyone else” beating Hamilton in the same car just months after the Finn had walked away from the team.
He stressed beating Hamilton was “not easy” and pointed the finger at the seven-time champion’s remarkable consistency as the reason why. However, Russell defied the odds to become only the third team-mate to finish ahead of the F1 icon.
Back in February, Bottas admitted Russell would fare better than most due to his experience at the Silver Arrows but stressed it would still be an uphill challenge. He told SunSport: “I don’t see anyone else beating Lewis in the near future in the same machinery.
“George will adjust well because he has been with Mercedes for some years. But beating Lewis is not easy. I have experienced that. It is his consistency in his performances.
“Every driver has form that is a little bit up and down, but his baseline for performance is just so high. Even when he has a bad day it is not too bad. It is his consistency over the season.”
Russell started off in impressive form as he outscored Hamilton seven times in the first eight races. Early on, the seven-time champion’s consistency was all over the place with Hamilton recording a P10 and P13 in two of the first four races.
Meanwhile, Russell had finished every race in the top five until his dramatic crash at the British Grand Prix. Hamilton began to edge ahead in the summer, outscoring Russell over five consecutive races from July to August.
However, Russell maintained his form, finishing outside the top five on just two more occasions (Singapore and Japan) to maintain his points advantage. He finished 35 points ahead of Hamilton after the champion retired at the final race in Abu Dhabi.
Russell also secured the team’s only win of the season in Brazil, his maiden victory in the sport. Mercedes have appeared to play down Russell’s intra-team victory, claiming mid-season that his advantage over Hamilton was due to “set-up experiments” on the 38-year-old’s car.
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Team boss Toto Wolff also admitted the position of the drivers in the standings was “irrelevant” as the team was not battling for championships. Russell could also struggle to replicate the success next season with Hamilton finally getting to grips with his Mercedes package towards the end of the season.
Hamilton picked up an impressive three podiums in the last four races compared to Russell’s one. Johnny Herbert has also raised his suspicions, blaming Hamilton’s mentality for issues at the start of the season last year.
He told Total-Motorsport.com: “I think Lewis started last year probably a little bit frustrated, knowing the car wasn’t great. I don’t think he had the right mental approach because he was probably frustrated, as a racing driver would be as a seven-time world champion, trying to get [that] eighth, which was taken away from him.
“Now that opportunity has reset to get himself mentally and physically prepared [for this season]. It’s a good thing, maybe for Lewis, knowing that the pressure is going to be really hot from George.”
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