Lewis Hamilton addresses fan ‘negativity’ after George Russell favouritism claims

Jamie Woodhouse
George Russell and Lewis Hamilton.

Mercedes drivers George Russell and Lewis Hamilton.

Told that Mercedes team-mate George Russell is experiencing social media abuse stemming from his stronger start to the F1 2024 campaign, Lewis Hamilton said “support, not negativity” is needed from the fans.

Russell is winning out over Hamilton so far in the F1 2024 intra-team battle at Mercedes, boasting an 8-1 lead in the qualifying head-to-head, while Russell has scored 69 points to Hamilton’s 55, as well as claiming Mercedes’ first podium of the season last time out in Canada.

Lewis Hamilton rallies against fan ‘negativity’

Additional reporting by Sam Cooper

However, when speaking to media including PlanetF1.com ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix, it was suggested to Hamilton that Russell’s stronger form – in what is Hamilton’s final season with Mercedes ahead of his Ferrari move – is causing some of his fans to suggest foul play and send abuse the way of Russell on social media.

Hamilton said he was not aware of this, but leapt to the defence of Russell in calling for an end to “negativity”.

Hamilton himself had hinted at there not being a level playing field with his comments in Monaco after Russell ran the upgraded front wing there.

“I think they know if you look at the years, we’ve always been a strong team. We’ve always worked really hard together,” said Hamilton.

“I think it’s easy to get emotional. But I think it’s always… I even commented in the last race, for example, just about my performance.

“I think we need support, not negativity, and I wasn’t actually aware that George was experiencing negativity.

“George has done nothing but his best every single weekend and is delivering for the team, so he can’t be faulted at all.

“Of course, there can always be things done better within the team, and that comes through conversation, through communication, and that’s something that we are consistently working on.

“But we’re all in the same boat. We’re all working hard together. We want to finish on a high and feel that we owe that to our long-term relationship that we’ve had.”

Russell also said he had not seen this social media negativity, but said it is “unfortunately the world we live in at the moment” that anyone in the public eye will experience this.

“Social media is a really double-edged sword,” he said, “there’s so many funny things that you see on social media and it keeps you up to date with so much, but then on the flip side, it’s not just myself, but everybody in the limelight, there seems to be negativity pointed towards them.

“And like Lewis said, you want to feel their support, not giving out negativity to others.

“So, as I said, it’s not something I’ve seen or heard about it [from viewing comments online]. Of course, it’s never nice to hear this stuff, but that’s unfortunately the world we live in at the moment and what any person in the public eye is facing.”

More key talking points ahead of the Spanish GP

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There is a great deal of intrigue surrounding Mercedes heading into the Spanish Grand Prix, following a performance surge in Canada where Russell contended for a second F1 career victory.

Now comes the test of the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, regarded as an all-rounder track where the strongest challengers will shine, meaning Russell expects this round to give Mercedes a clear verdict on their progress.

“I think after a number of difficult tracks, which are always really fun to drive, like Monaco, Montreal, some of the best tracks, Imola, it’s going to be good coming back to Barcelona, Austria, Silverstone, more conventional circuits and seeing where the pace of this car really triples out,” he said.

“I think ourselves, McLaren and Ferrari have made some big strides towards Red Bull with this season, but we also know that they met challenging races in the bumpy tracks.

“So I think we’re all sat here with anticipation of what if, ‘are we making the gains that we expected and hoped for?’ I think, come Thursday next week, we’ll all have a better indication of how the rest of the season is going to pan out.”

Mercedes sit P4 in the F1 2024 Constructors’ Championship standings going into the Spanish GP with 88 points to make up on McLaren a position ahead.

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