George Russell: Lewis Hamilton exit ‘a fresh start’ and ‘new spark’ for Mercedes

Jamie Woodhouse
Mercedes drivers George Russell and Lewis Hamilton wave to fans at the 2024 Chinese Grand Prix.

Mercedes drivers George Russell and Lewis Hamilton.

George Russell believes Lewis Hamilton leaving will provide a “new spark” for Mercedes, while he also sees the timing as a positive.

Ahead of the F1 2024 campaign, the huge announcement dropped that it would be Hamilton’s final season as a Mercedes driver before he headed over to Ferrari for 2025.

George Russell sees the positives in Lewis Hamilton Mercedes exit

Mercedes therefore are in the process of determining a new team-mate for Russell, who believes that Hamilton moving on can be a “new spark” for team as well as driver.

He is also glad that Hamilton has chosen this time to depart, claiming that the feeling would have been far different had he done so following the controversial conclusion to his 2021 title battle with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.

“It’s a fresh start for the team,” Russell told the Daily Mail.

“So many people here have shared success with Lewis, but change often ignites a new spark for everyone. It does that for Lewis, and it sparks that for us here next year.

“It is good that Lewis is leaving us now, rather in 2021, when it would have been difficult for the whole team.”

Since the conclusion of that season, Mercedes has been left searching for the solution to mounting a fresh title challenge against Red Bull in F1’s ground effect era, which came into force from 2022.

Mercedes are still waiting for their first podium of the F1 2024 campaign, Russell believing they “overshot” with the W15 when it came to addressing the issues of its predecessors, but under the watch of technical director James Allison, Russell has complete faith in the team.

“When you look at the data and you correlate it with how it feels, you understand why last year wasn’t good and nor was the year before,” said Russell, “it was all at the rear and is now all at the front.

“The problem is that the changes we made were too much. It was in the right direction, but we carried on going and overshot. It shows there is always a compromise.

“We have a great team and have other great people joining. And we have James back at the helm and he’s letting nothing slide. There’s clear leadership.”

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Mercedes, Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren have all now taken their first shots in the F1 2024 development war, Russell saying that Mercedes’ two-part W15 upgrade across Miami and Imola made their challenger “more balanced through the lap”.

The issue was that McLaren and Ferrari – who are threatening to mount a title fight against Red Bull – have matched that step, as Mercedes continue working “flat out” to keep their upgrades coming.

“The car is definitely more balanced through the lap now,” Russell told media including at the Monaco Grand Prix. “We were struggling a lot at the start of the year, balancing the high- to low-speed corners. And I think we have made progress.

“When you look at the gap to Red Bull, when you look at the gap to the rest of the midfield, we have moved forward. But I do think it’s fair to say Ferrari and McLaren have moved forward at the same rate.

“So we need to keep on working, bringing those upgrades to the car. And the whole team are working flat out right now to bring those upgrades as quick as possible.”

Mercedes sit P4 in the current F1 2024 Constructors’ standings, 88 points behind McLaren a position ahead.

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