George Russell makes F1 2025 declaration after Lewis Hamilton departs for Ferrari

Oliver Harden
George Russell sits in his Mercedes W15 with Lewis Hamilton looking agitated in a small circle

Can George Russell lead Mercedes into life after Lewis Hamilton?

George Russell has insisted that “nothing has changed” since the confirmation of Lewis Hamilton’s shock switch to Ferrari – and has backed himself to lead Mercedes in F1 2025 and beyond.

Hamilton announced at the beginning of this month that he will leave Mercedes at the end of 2024, bringing an end to the most successful team-driver partnership in F1 history.

The 39-year-old has won six of his seven World Championships with the Brackley-based team, having first arrived at Mercedes from McLaren at the beginning of 2013.

George Russell addresses Lewis Hamilton to Ferrari move

Additional reporting by Thomas Maher

With a full season still to go before he moves to Ferrari, it has been suggested that Hamilton is in for a challenging year at Mercedes with reigning World Champion Max Verstappen claiming recently that it could get “awkward” between team and driver in 2024.

Speaking to media including PlanetF1.com’s Thomas Maher at pre-season testing in Bahrain, however, Russell has claimed the atmosphere within the team is unchanged since Hamilton’s bombshell announcement.

He said: “So far, it hasn’t changed at all really.

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“I think everybody’s professional, we’ve all got our job at hand and the engineers are just motivated on trying to deliver the fastest car possible and Lewis is still motivated to do the best job possible.

“So, within the team, it seems like nothing has changed.”

Andrea Kimi Antonelli, Mercedes’s 17-year-old junior sensation competing in F2 in 2024, is widely regarded as the team’s preferred choice to replace Hamilton, with two-time World Champion Fernando Alonso also seen as a potential candidate.

Having measured up well alongside Hamilton for pace over the last two seasons, claiming Mercedes’ only victory of the current ground effect era at the 2022 Brazilian Grand Prix, Russell says he has “no concerns” over the identity of his 2025 team-mate.

He explained: “It’s going to be an interesting few months to see what happens.

“But from my side, I’ve been team-mates with arguably the greatest driver of all time for the past two years and I have no concerns at all who lines up alongside me.

“I want to be tested against the very best and I feel that’s what I’ve had the last two years, whether it’s an experienced driver or a young driver.

“I feel that, personally, I’m in a great position to help push the team forward and going into this next chapter for the team.”

Hamilton’s early announcement has raised fears that he could be frozen out by the team in 2024, with Mercedes favouring Russell.

Speaking to media including PlanetF1.com on the morning after Hamilton’s departure was confirmed, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff insisted the team will remain fair and played down concerns that the outgoing driver could take the team’s secrets to his new employers.

He said: “I think what I’ve always tried to do as a team principal, and all of us at Mercedes, is to be transparent and fair – and nothing’s going to change in that respect in 2024.

“We owe it to our principles and our racing intent, how we go about [racing], and we will respect that.

“And I will [ensure] that the drivers will respect that.

“In terms of the development going forward, I think this is something which we need to look at.

“The regulations stay pretty much the same and when it comes to 2025, we will evaluate later in the season what it means in terms of technical information.

“But that’s not something that bothers me at all. We have engineers that leave us and go to other teams, and the notice periods are sometimes as short as six months, so I don’t have any doubt about Lewis’s integrity in terms of sharing information in that respect.

“I just want to make sure – we want to make sure – that this is a successful season, a successful season for both drivers and a successful season for Mercedes all of us will give our utmost to achieve that.

“It’s definitely a new situation to manage, for Lewis and the team but it is something that when you focus on the really short term – and this is the racing team that’s been deployed to run the product – it doesn’t have a big impact on everything that’s happening going forward on the development side.

“I’m always interested in new and challenging situations and I’m balancing 2024 Mercedes interests versus 2025 driver interests.

“It’s something that we will openly discuss at the beginning, how to manage that, and for sure come to a good outcome between us.”

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