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Russell is the future, says Hamilton


In an uncharacteristic volte face, Lewis Hamilton insists he would welcome George Russell as teammate, insisting that the youngster is the future of the sport.

With the deal seemingly done and the 'announce' due next weekend, Lewis Hamilton appears to have experienced a Damascene moment since soggy Spa, as he prepares to welcome George Russell as his new teammate.

This time last week the seven-time world champion was questioning why Mercedes would want to upset the current status quo, insisting the Valtteri Bottas is the best teammate he has ever had.

Days later and the Briton appears to be welcoming countryman Russell with open arms.

"I honestly think it will be good," Hamilton told reporters at Zandvoort. "I think George is an incredibly talented driver, clearly.

"I would say probably the only highlight from last week was his qualifying lap, it was amazing," he added.

"I think he's humble, I think he's got a great approach, naturally being British I would imagine probably helps, in terms of communication.

"He's the future," said the world champion. "He's one of the members of the future of the sport.

"He's already shown incredible driving so far, and I'm sure he's going to continue to grow, so where better to do it than in a great team like this... or whatever team he goes to?"

Asked about his change of heart having previously pushed for Bottas to be retained, Hamilton said: "Naturally, when you start with someone new, it always takes time, even when we have a new engineer or a new mechanic, it takes a moment for them to gel in.

"But George has already been on the circuit with us, he's already done a race with the team, he's already been in the background whilst Valtteri and I have been working in the past. So I think he knows the environment well."

And for those who believe that Hamilton's previous resistance to Russell's recruitment was to do with the potential threat posed by the youngster...

"It's not like I have anything to prove," said Hamilton. "I've raced against some incredible drivers as team mates, in my rookie year alongside Fernando, so I don't really feel like I have anything to prove.

"If it does turn out that I've got a new team mate, I'm in a different place in my life. I'm excited to see the youngsters coming through. It's not that I want to lose to a youngster, naturally, but I'm excited to see the progression of the sport, because I am a fan of the sport, at the end of the day.

"You've heard me earlier on in the year talk about Lando. It's encouraging to see these youngsters come through. They're fierce, and I see a lot of myself in the younger generation. They're what the sport's going to be relying on moving forward.

"There will be things that we learn from one another," he insisted. "I think it's important that respect is always there and communication will be at the core of that.

"But my focus right now is, me and Valtteri have a job to do. I'm proud to work alongside Valtteri. I think he's a decent human being and I think that's at the core of why I have the respect I think I have for him.

"On top of that he's a fierce competitor. He never gives up, keeps pushing, and he's helped me deliver these championships with the team. I couldn't have done it without him."

Meanwhile, as Mercedes refuses to confirm or deny the intense speculation, Russell has admitted that he was told before the Spa weekend, where he would be next season.

"As I said, I'm not going to sit here and lie and not say the truth," the Briton told reporters. "The truth is there's nothing to announce but I'm aware of the situation of where I'll be racing next year and I was informed just prior to Spa."

Check out our Thursday gallery from Zandvoort, here.


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1. Posted by kenji, 03/09/2021 13:07

"@ Finchy...too early for pyjamas. What i would recommend though is that you read the article again and then think seriously about your response. Your use of the pejorative term 'hate' is uncalled for. Hamilton's flip flopped. That must tell you read the article then enjoy FP2. I am."

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2. Posted by kenji, 03/09/2021 13:00

"@ Ed...forgot to point out that no one in their right mind would venture out anywhere that leads to Damascus unless they have an overwhelming death wish!!!"

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3. Posted by Motorsport-fan, 03/09/2021 12:43

"If Russell is going to Mercedes, I think we have to applaud Toto and co for the decision, there is no doubt George will give Lewis more than a run for his money, its going to be fascinating to see how it all unfolds."

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4. Posted by Oil Leak77, 03/09/2021 11:25

"When he says 'the future' does he mean 1 championship in the next 7 years like Lewis achieved, or better than that? "

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5. Posted by Finchy, 03/09/2021 8:58

"As usual....Kenji the Hamilton hater is sitting in his pyjamas being ridiculous again."

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6. Posted by kenji, 03/09/2021 2:42

"I have no way of proving this but I knew, or felt quite certain, that Norris would come to grief at Spa. He was driving like a demon and I expected him to 'overdrive' and that's exactly what happened. Russell was also very fortunate to have all the right conditions that set up his stunning lap. He did very well indeed. As for the meat of the article well there is a lot in there to digest. If it does come to pass that Russell drives for Mercedes next year then Hamilton will be under pressure for the first time since Rosberg left. Keeping Bottas on one year deals meant that it was easier to control him should he threaten Hamilton in any one year. Hamilton and his team would be well prepared for this current eventuality and would have a draw full of differing strategies in place to cover all angles. Better to flip now rather than later and therefore try to garner the 'elder statesman' effect! I would also be very surprised if there were no contractually enforceable clauses that keep Russell on a short leash should he get to 'frisky' until Hamilton calls it a day. I look forward to seeing where this all pans out however to state that he, Hamilton, has nothing to prove is about as credible as 'peace in our time' was back in 1938. If you believe that you're the GOAT and you're not winning then time to head for the fire escape.


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7. Posted by BillH, 02/09/2021 19:19

"While Russell's quali was indeed a highlight and he did an excellent job, for me, up until his crash Norris was the highlight as he was right up there.
The next highlight was Norris not being injured.
Russell was next on the list for me.

While it will be great for Russell to head of to Merc, it would probably be with mixed emotions as he seems to have really become imbedded in at Williams, certainly going by the snippets of team radio and garage shots we get.

Then again, Bottas had a similar relationship back in the day."

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