Hamilton: No better team than Mercedes for Russell to grow

Lewis Hamilton has given his first hint that he expects to be racing alongside George Russell next season at Mercedes.

F1’s reigning world champions are expected to soon announce their 2022 line-up, with pundits betting heavy on Russell moving from Williams to Mercedes where he would replace Valtteri Bottas.

The prospect of pairing the talented 23-year-old with Hamilton is sparked speculation that such a partnership is ensured to produce tensiosn at the Brackley squad.

But speaking in Thursday’s media conference ahead of this weekend’s Dutch Grand Prix, Hamilton appeared to welcome the challenge of racing alongside one of the sport’s most gifted young guns.

“I think it’d be quite good, I honestly think it’d be good,” answered the seven-time world champion when asked about how he thinks his relationship with Russell would be.

“George is an incredibly talented driver, clearly. I would say probably the only highlight from last week [at Spa] was his qualifying lap. It was amazing.

“He’s humble. He’s got a great approach. Being British I imagine probably helps in terms of communication!

“At the moment I have to be super supportive of the team-mate that I have right now, so that’s why I’m always supportive of Valtteri because we have a job to do right now and neither of us can win the team championship alone, we have to do it collectively.

“But he [Russell] is the future, he’s one of the members of the future of the sport. He’s already shown incredible driving so far. I’m sure it’s going to continue to grow.

“Where better to do it than a great team like this – or whatever team he goes to.”

Elaborating on a potential association with Russell, Hamilton played down any fears of an acrimonious relationship – such as the one he experienced with Nico Rosberg – developing with Russell.

The 99-time Grand Prix driver says that five years from his tense battles with Rosberg, he’s in a “different place” in his life and would embrace the opportunity to fight against a rising star, and indeed even learn from a young charger.

    Read also – Verstappen: Russell would make it ‘difficult’ for Hamilton at Mercedes

“I don’t really feel like I have anything to prove,” said Hamilton. “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 because I am a fan of the sport.

“You’ve heard me early on in the year talk about Lando [Norris], it’s encouraging to see these youngsters coming through. They are fierce. I see a lot of myself in the younger generation, and I think they are what the sport’s gonna be reliant on moving forward.

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“There’ll be things that we learn from one another. It’s important that naturally the respect is always there and communication will be at the core of that.

“We’ve got an amazing setting at our team in terms of morale, in terms of processes and how the team put their arms around the two drivers.

“That’s why we have harmony in our team, and I think we’re so much better prepared than we were in previous years, so it doesn’t really worry me.”

Hamilton also highlighted the fact that Mercedes is well acquainted with Russell, having supported the Briton within its young driver program since 2017, while the latter is also well acquainted with the Brackley team’s environment.

“When you start with someone new, even when we have a new engineer or a new mechanic, it takes a moment for them to gel,” added Hamilton.

“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 while Valtteri and I’ve been working in the past so I think he knows the environment well.

“But my focus right now is me and Valtteri have a job to do. And I’m proud to work alongside about Valtteri.

“He is a decent human being and I think that’s at the core of why I have the respect I have with him, and on top of that he’s a fierce competitor. He never gives up, he just keeps pushing.

“He’s helped me deliver these championships with the team. I couldn’t have done it without him.”

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