Lewis Hamilton says he does not feel like the leader at Mercedes and that he and George Russell work just as hard as anyone else in the team.
It has been a strange season for Hamilton. An unlikely podium finish at the opening race in Bahrain was followed by a 10th-place finish in Saudi Arabia. In Spain, he produced one of the drives of his career to come from the back of the field to P5, but his long-term future in the sport has been questioned given the rise of his team-mate Russell.
Hamilton’s place as the biggest star in F1 is undeniable. Even if the new generation in the form of Russell, Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc appear to be converting their much talked about potential into race wins, Hamilton remains the biggest and most popular figure in the sport.
Despite this, he said he does not feel like the leader at Mercedes and believes he and Russell work as hard as anyone else in the team.
In a press conference attended by both Russell and Hamilton before the Spanish Grand Prix, a joint question was asked to the pair and Russell was asked what qualities he saw in Hamilton as a leader. Hamilton responded first and denied he was the leader.
“Well, firstly, I wouldn’t say I’m the leader,” the seven-time former World Champion said. “George and I work equally hard together, I would say, to help drive the team and row just as hard as everyone else in the team.
“But through adversity and challenging times you always learn more about yourself, how you deal with things, how you reflect on things, how you are able to turn negatives into positives.
“I wouldn’t say I’ve learned particularly much more, so I will say past experiences have helped during this phase. And I would say to just reassuring the strength I know I have mentally.
“Also, just reassuring us I still love my job, I still love the challenge even if it’s not fighting for wins. I’m still enjoying this battle we are having internally in terms of trying to, with the car I mean, trying to chase down these other guys.”
Russell replied shortly afterwards and described it as “inspiring” to see how Hamilton works to get the most out of the team.
“I think that’s been one of the big things I’ve seen with joining Mercedes, seeing how Lewis does things, how Toto [Wolff] does things, the culture that’s ingrained within everyone,” the 24-year-old said. “It’s sort of relentless.
“They are always striving for more, never being complacent and seeing how everyone’s pulling together at the moment to try and resolve these issues we are facing, it inspires and it’s also motivating for myself because you learn how the best in the business do it and you need to continuously push yourself for more.
“So I think I’m in a really privileged position to be team-mates with Lewis and be part of Mercedes.”