Russell says Mercedes F1 pair “trust one another” on track; admits he is “not satisfied” to just match Hamilton’s pace

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Photo Credit: Mercedes AMG Media

In a recent interview, Mercedes F1 driver George Russell spoke about the relationship between him and his team-mate Lewis Hamilton. A relationship, he explained, based on mutual trust and in which the misunderstandings and clashes that occurred in 2023 are only the result of the many inevitable intersections on the track.

Mercedes’ season, in addition to the obvious and undeniable difficulties experienced on the track, due to a W14 (derived of the incorrect ‘zero-pod’ philosophy), was also complicated by the not always simple and easy coexistence between the two drivers, Lewis Hamilton and George Russell, who several times had “close encounters” on the track, such as the contact during qualifying for the Spanish GP or the Turn 1 accident in Qatar, for which the seven-time world champion took responsibility.

Not only that, because even in the management of strategies, to the advantage of one or the other, there were moments of tension during the 22 races, as happened for example in Japan, when Lewis Hamilton didn’t fully accept the strategy of the team – according to which he should have slowed down to provide DRS to Russell in a bid to help him defend against Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari at the closing stages.

In a recent interview given to during this winter break, Russell commented on these instances of tension. The English driver, firstly, stated that they are normal in a team with two equally matched drivers, both in qualifying and in the race, who often find themselves battling with each other on track.

“I think it’s normal when you’re so close in performance, when you’re lapping at the same lap times or you’re starting next to one another on the grid – you’re always going to be close. We always go through our strategies [in] meetings. The pace difference between the two of us is zero.

“We’re always going to be going across a 24-race season, an average of 60 laps per race, we cross paths a lot and he’s the driver I cross paths with the most. So, I think that’s probably what we put it down to.”

George then continued by underlining the mutual trust that exists in the team, in which the two drivers often battle with each other but with the necessary respect to avoid engaging in unnecessary tussles and collisions:

“I think also we trust one another. There may be tense [moments], it may be hard, but we trust one another. We know that we’ll give each other enough space to fight necessarily and not go beyond the limit. Obviously, Qatar was just a bit of a lap one small misjudgement. That’s another opportunity where it was another podium or even a potential victory missed.”

Russell, eighth in the standings (with Hamilton finishing third), concluded his speech by underlining how 2023 was the toughest season he has ever had from a psychological point of view.

“I’m purposely trying to push myself further and beyond. I’m not satisfied with just being on par with my team-mate in qualifying or whatever it may be. Or last year [when] we were very even across the whole season.

‘”I want to be ahead. That’s what I’m pushing myself for. Perhaps that’s been a small reason for contributing to a couple more mistakes.”