‘Life is not going to be getting easier for Hamilton’

Michelle Foster
Lewis Hamilton watching George Russell in testing. Barcelona February 2022

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton watching his team-mate George Russell pull out of the garage in testing. Barcelona February 2022

Swapping his wingman Valtteri Bottas for a “hungry” George Russell, Christian Horner reckons Lewis Hamilton is in for a tough intra-team battle this season.

After five seasons with Hamilton as their unofficial number one driver backed up by “wingman” Bottas, Mercedes have a new line-up this season.

And while it may be one of the strongest, it could also be one of the more competitive on the grid if the opening pre-season timesheet is any indication.

Hamilton came from behind on Day Two, where he was slowest of all, to top the timesheet on the third and final day at the Circuit de Catalunya, his 1:19.138 also the fastest overall time for the three-day test.

His new team-mate Russell finished second, 0.095s slower than his compatriot.

But while everyone knows that the lap times set in testing don’t count for much, just ask Ferrari after their 2019 pace-setting times only to fall flat when the season started, it is a sign that the Mercedes team-mates could be fairly well matched this season.

That, Horner says, could yet prove to be a headache for Hamilton.

While the 37-year-old will be chasing a record-breaking eighth World title this season, looking to retake the crown off Max Verstappen, Russell is seeking to make a name for himself and possibly follow in Verstappen’s footsteps by winning his first title.

“Lewis is going to be massively motivated this season,” Horner told Press Association.

“But he’s going to have more competition internally because he’s got a hungry competitive young team-mate who is going to be snapping at his ankles.

“Life is not going to be getting easier for him, that’s for sure.

“George is going to be a big factor this year. He has been blisteringly quick in all the junior categories, he’s one of the standout talents and dealing with his drivers will give Toto a headache this year.”

Horner, however, made no mention of his own Red Bull line-up of Verstappen and Sergio Perez.


Last season the Mexican driver took just one race win to Verstappen’s 10 with the latter expected to continue as Red Bull’s lead man this season.

The 2022 championship begins in Bahrain on March 20.

PlanetF1 Verdict


Horner: 'Life is not going to get easier for Hamilton'

Christian Horner feels Lewis Hamilton has a tough task against George Russell, who will be 'snapping at his ankles' in 2022.