George Russell tipped to grab Mercedes No.1 status with Lewis Hamilton exit

Thomas Maher
George Russell and Lewis Hamilton pictured together at a Mercedes event in 2022.

George Russell has been tipped to take over the leadership of Mercedes after Lewis Hamilton departs for 2025.

Lewis Hamilton’s departure from Mercedes opens the door for George Russell to assert himself as team leader next year, Martin Brundle believes.

Hamilton and Russell are entering their third year together as team-mates, with the young British driver having been promoted from Williams for 2022. While Hamilton had the measure of Hamilton more often than not in ’23, it’s Russell who has won a race in the current ground-effect regulation cycle after claiming the win in Brazil in ’22.

While Russell had a self-confessed scrappy season in ’23, he hasn’t looked completely outclassed by the seven-time World Champion, and Sky F1 broadcaster Martin Brundle has tipped Russell to rise to the occasion of taking over as team leader next year when Hamilton departs.

Martin Brundle has ‘no doubt’ George Russell can be number one

Brundle, speaking on the Sky F1 podcast ahead of the 2024 season kicking off, reflected on the recent news that Hamilton will leave Mercedes after more than a decade with Brackley in order to join Ferrari.

With a vacant seat at Mercedes now open for 2025, Brundle said he doesn’t think Mercedes need to rush into a decision on who to replace Hamilton as Russell will prove more than capable of succeeding Hamilton in spearheading the team’s entry.

“Do you know what? I think everybody’s got an opportunity here,” Brundle said as he spoke about the news.

“I think George Russell has got the shiny confidence, the talent, the speed, the experience to pick up the mantle and be the number one driver at Mercedes. I do not doubt that at all.

“I think it’ll energise Mercedes with losing Lewis and it’s an opportunity for them – act in haste, repent at leisure.”

With McLaren re-signing Lando Norris on a long-term extension, Brundle’s Sky F1 colleague Rachel Brookes said the time has come for the new generation of promising British drivers to step up to the plate.

“I think George and Lando have got very similar seasons this year,” she said.

“I think they both need to mould their teams around them. This is really important for both of them now they’ve got to that point in their careers where they’re no longer young coming in.

“They’ve got experience, they know the teams they’re in, they need to really build these teams around them now and make them work for them and get the car built the way they want to drive it. Lando has committed long-term, and George now sees an opportunity. They’ve got to really use this year as a massive stepping stone for themselves.” recommends

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Brundle also said there’s no shortage of options for Mercedes to weigh up as 2024 plays out, and there’s no reason to rush into a decision on who to place alongside Russell.

“They can wait and see how Kimi Antonelli goes,” he said of the exciting junior talent, who rises into Formula 2 with Prema this season.

“They’ve got Esteban Ocon I suspect if they want, they’ve got access to Carlos Sainz. Maybe, Fernando Alonso, they’ve got Mick Schumacher in their gang, and any number of other drivers. So I think they’ll see how this season goes, why do they need to jump now?

“I think it’ll energise Ferrari and Charles Leclerc as well. It’ll certainly energise us talking about it!”

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff hasn’t completely ruled out the prospect of taking a chance on someone like Antonelli, but said he won’t be rushing into a decision due to Russell’s strengths and their confidence in him.

“We have such a solid foundation,” Wolff said earlier this month.

“Such a quick and talented and intelligent guy in the car that we just need to make the right choice for the second seat. That’s not something I want to be rushed in.”

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