Lewis Hamilton is an ‘egoist’ and will ‘100 per cent’ be bothered about George Russell consistently bettering him on the track this season, according to Sky F1 expert Ralf Schumacher. Russell was expected to replace Valtteri Bottas as Mercedes’ number-two driver in his rookie season but has so far defied expectations in 2022.
The 24-year-old took advantage of a conveniently-timed safety car to finish ahead of Hamilton in Sunday’s Miami Grand Prix, driving from P12 to P5. It was the fourth race running in which he crossed the line before the seven-time world champion, who is enduring one of the most challenging seasons of his career.
And Schumacher believes Hamilton will be bothered by the former Williams driver replacing him as Toto Wolff’s primary point-collector in the opening five races. He claims Russell can ‘handle the car better’ than the 37-year-old Brit and is a ‘different calibre’ of rival than Bottas was last season.
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He told Sky Sports: “Russell is now a different calibre for Lewis than Bottas was, and, above all, he is a constant calibre. He’s also someone who picks people up – just like Hamilton. He makes a likeable and very chummy impression on the team. He digs the water out of Lewis a bit in every way. He can just handle it [the car] better, and that bothers Lewis, I’m pretty sure. That’s clear.”
He added: “He’s an egoist like all of us were as racing drivers, and I was too, I admit that. In any case, I have to say. It will bother him 100 per cent! Lewis is still struggling with the car and has often complained – ok, we know that even if he was fast – but he still has his difficulties there. At least it’s going in the right direction.”
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The W13 has been way off the pace of title contenders Red Bull and Ferrari this year, ending Mercedes’ period of dominance. But while the Silver Arrows’ problems have all but squashed hopes of a ninth consecutive constructors’ championship, Russell’s start garners plenty of encouragement.
Heading into the Spanish Grand Prix later this month, Russell leads Hamilton by 23 points in the drivers’ standings. Meanwhile, Mercedes are already 62 points behind leading constructors Ferrari, who have propelled Charles Leclerc into world title contention.