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Russell expecting parity with Hamilton

NEWS STORY
09/09/2021

George Russell claims that Mercedes has promised him total parity with new teammate, seven-time world champion, Lewis Hamilton.

While the German team seemingly dithered over whether to maintain the status quo or opt for new blood, many suspected that the stumbling block in terms of signing Russell would be the threat he might pose to Hamilton.

Indeed, it was widely speculated that this was the reason the world champion had made no secret of his desire to retain Valtteri Bottas.

An impressive one-off outing for the German team in last year's Sakhir Grand Prix, while deputising for Hamilton, made the situation increasingly difficult, with some opining that the world champion's early return after testing positive for COVID was the result of Russell's form over the weekend.

However, his form in a title-winning Mercedes was in many ways nothing compared to his results in the back of the grid Williams, and this, coupled with Bottas' irregular form meant the German team had to bring Russell in or face losing him.

While Bottas is widely seen as Hamilton's 'wingman', Russell insists that central to agreeing the Mercedes deal was the condition that he be given parity with the world champion and allowed to fight for wins.

"That was made very clear to me," Russell told reporters at Monza today. "I think Mercedes are always respectful in that regard, to give both drivers the best opportunity.

"Naturally I believe in myself, and I have high aspirations," he continued. "But equally I know just how tough it is going to be. Lewis is a seven-time world champion for a reason, and I think I'm in probably one of the most fortunate positions on the grid to be able to go out there and learn from him.

"For myself, I see this partnership with Mercedes as a long-term thing, and I guess I need to use next year as a real opportunity to learn, and take it race by race, and just see how I get on. But I've got no initial thoughts really."

Though some say that the threat posed by the 'young pretender' to Hamilton could cause friction within the team, Russell insists that this will not be the case.

"I think Mercedes have had clear experience of a poor dynamic within the team," he said, an obvious reference to Nico Rosberg, "and they've made it absolutely clear that they don't want a repeat.

"On a personal level as well, I don't want that either," he added. "I think it's so important as teammates to work together, to push the team.

"Next year it's a new car and new regulations. There's no guarantees who is going to have the fastest car, so I guess it's our job as drivers to push that forward.

"I'd say as well, Lewis and I are at very different stages of our career, which I think also helps, and I have a huge amount of respect for him, I think being so much younger and looking up to him as a young karting driver changes that dynamic a lot too. I don't see there being any issues at all."

Check out our Thursday gallery from Monza, here.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by kenji, 11/09/2021 1:06

"@ Pavlo...when you say that ' in quali where there are no team orders'...you have ignored the fact that team orders do get applied in quali via the 'towing' that's provided!"

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2. Posted by kenji, 11/09/2021 1:02

"Lots of good points to consider but I simply don't see this as clearly as some appear to do. I am still of the opinion that considering the mega, and I mean absolutely huge, financial investment that Mercedes have made in Hamllton that they would ever entertain not giving him maximum protection in order for him to clinch an eighth WC. If he does go on to claim that record then it's highly likely that it will ever be beaten. It's also possible that Russell is not all he's cracked up to be and that if Mercedes don't have such a dominating new car that he will be just one of the leading pack. With so many unknowns ATM, I would be hesitant to place so much faith in next years Mercedes line up. Maybe that's just wishful thinking...who knows?"

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3. Posted by ChickenFarmerF1, 10/09/2021 19:23

"Which is a long way of saying, that Russell will wind up as defacto #1 at Mercedes. Eventually. But he will have to contend with a Hamilton very hungry for his place at the top of the record books, without sharing the WDC record with Schumi. "

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4. Posted by ChickenFarmerF1, 10/09/2021 19:18

"I expect Hamilton will retire after next year assuming he gets an 8th WDC (whether this year or next). He's turning 37 just after this season ends. So he'd be 38 after next season, when his current contract is up. That's getting up there for F1 drivers. Kimi is turning 42 next month, and he's definitely been past his prime for a few years. Alonso is 40 and while he's impressive still, he's not dominating Ocon like he would have even 4 years ago. I think Hamilton wants the 8th WDC, just to be clear of Schumi's record of 7. I'm sure he'd also really like to at least equal Schumi's record of 5 in a row (though Max might have something to say about that). But an 8th WDC, helping put Mercedes on strong footing (or realizing it's hopeless) with the 2022 compliant car, and turning 38 will likely prompt him to retire. I only see him continuing to drive into '23 if he hasn't managed that 8th WDC, and there's a team that's significantly better with the new rules than Mercedes that wants him. Because by 2023 Russell will most likely have cemented himself as top driver as at 38 Hamilton's eyesight and reaction times will have lost that tiny fraction that allows him to dominate so well. And if he can't beat Russell, and there's not a team better than Mercedes for another shot at a WDC, he won't persist."

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5. Posted by Pavlo, 10/09/2021 16:03

"The key is qualifying, where there are no team orders. And pure performance in the race, which is very measurable for the team.
I would even say, Bottas has now equal status with Lewis. Logically, the one who is behind has to sacrifice his race to help the one who is in front. Same for championship - driver who is 100 points behind would be sacrificed to help one who is 3 points behind the rival. It's only Valterri's fault to lose qualifying 11 to 2 and to be behind all the time."

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6. Posted by Endre, 10/09/2021 13:28

"@kenji it will be equal. Mercedes folks are arrogant but not dumb. Hamilton is the past, they will not jeopardize the relationship with a future star who could be with them for 10-15 years. And hypothetically, even if they would, all Russel needs to do is just not give a damn ... and what can Mercedes do?? They will never let a talent of Russel's caliber get away. All George needs to do is wipe the floor with Hamilton (which I am sure will happen if not in the first but second year for sure) and that's it."

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7. Posted by kenji, 10/09/2021 11:49

"Sorry for the break....Will the team allow Russell to take his first WC or will they prioritise Hamilton for his eighth ? Equal opportunity as proselytised by purveyors of 'woke', would indicate that it should be the first option....."

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8. Posted by kenji, 10/09/2021 11:43

"@ Spindoctor...let's look at a possible scenario whereby either Russell or Hamilton could take the WC and they are running 1 & 2 in the final race with no one else a possibility. If Russell is in the lead, IMO, there will be change but if the positions are reversed what will the team do? "

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9. Posted by Spindoctor, 10/09/2021 10:06

"It's entirely up to young George to drive faster than Lewis.
Mercedes, like McLaren but unlike RBR & Ferrari has a long history of employing drivers whom they expect to compete on equal terms with one another, as well as the rest of the field.

This nominal "equality" is obviously reviewed as seasons, or even races progress & all teams have prioritised one driver over another depending on specifics. It's easy to forget that Bottas is a fast driver & had numerous opportunities to beat Hamilton, occasionally did so, but overall was simply not good enough.

I'm pretty confident that should we get to the final race with Verstappen needing Perez to act as "wingman" and\or move aside in order to beat Mercedes\Hamilton that's exactly what will happen... Similarly, if, at the close of 2022 Russell needs Hamilton to do likewise, that's what will happen."

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10. Posted by kenji, 10/09/2021 3:30

"Russell needs to ensure that the word 'parity' and it's full meaning/application is included as a prime and relevant clause in his contract otherwise Wollf will find a way around it. He is after all a master of 'doublespeak'. Don't forget that it was Wollf who named Bottas as a 'wingman' in the first place. To cap it all off of course 'changing strategies, made on the fly, can always be used to engineer results irrespective of contractual liabilities. So message to Russell....good luck with all that."

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11. Posted by C5, 10/09/2021 2:12

"More seriously, parity in F1 is not something you get it's something you take. Yield once, and you'll yield forever.

So it's all up to you, my boy. Drive fast enough and you'll get your wish."

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12. Posted by C5, 10/09/2021 2:11

"Aren't they cute when they're young? :-)
"

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13. Posted by jcr, 09/09/2021 20:43

"George. "This is James !! Cop On !!""

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