Ralf foresees Mercedes vacancy if George Russell beats Lewis Hamilton again

Jamie Woodhouse
George Russell and Lewis Hamilton smiling and wearing sunglasses. Belgium August 2022

Mercedes drivers George Russell and Lewis Hamilton smiling and wearing sunglasses. Belgium August 2022

Mick Schumacher could become part of the Mercedes line-up if George Russell beats Lewis Hamilton in 2023, says Ralf Schumacher.

2022 was the first season of the Hamilton-Russell partnership, Mercedes making the decision to move on from Valtteri Bottas after five seasons of the Finn alongside Hamilton.

And in a season where Mercedes could not get their W13 into the title fight, Russell would finish the campaign 35 points better off than Hamilton, and with the team’s only win of the season, achieving that in Brazil.

Mercedes have hinted that it was not exactly a clean defeat for Hamilton, saying that the seven-time champ spent much of the early stages of the campaign testing out extreme setups to help unlock future pace for the team.

That being said, Ralf believes that another season finishing behind Russell could be curtains for Hamilton, and his nephew Mick would then be in the perfect position to become Russell’s team-mate.

Mercedes have brought Mick in as a reserve driver following his release from Haas at the end of the 2022 campaign.

Asked by Sport1 if joining Audi would be a worthwhile future goal for Mick, Ralf replied: “Audi would definitely make sense, for Mick and for Audi. But something could also happen at Mercedes.

“Let’s say George Russell is faster than Lewis Hamilton again. Does he want to continue at all? That will be exciting.

“But Lewis has so much credit with Mercedes that he can decide for himself. In any case, the money won’t play a role for him. He has more than enough of it. What will be decisive is who suits the new car better.

“Lewis Hamilton is still an absolute top driver, but he is no longer the youngest. The ravages of time are wearing on him. So you never know. I think it’s a win-win situation for the team and Mick.”

And even if no opening at Mercedes presents itself, Ralf believes the team could look to find a seat for Mick at one of their customer teams, those being McLaren, Aston Martin and Williams.

“Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff has already said that Mick belongs in a regular cockpit with his skills,” said Ralf.

“I think there could be interesting possibilities in 2024. Mercedes not only has its own team, but also partner teams where you can have an influence.”

Lewis Hamilton does not look like stopping next year

It would take quite the surprise reversal in fortunes for Hamilton to decline to a point where he would retire at the end of the 2023 campaign.

The earlier stages of 2022 were rough for the Brit, even if the timing of the Safety Car was unkind on multiple occasions, but his form and motivation would recover and in the second half of the campaign, we saw Hamilton seemingly back at his best.

The true test for Russell, after a fantastic debut campaign with Mercedes, will come if the Silver Arrows are back to title-contending ways in 2023, and with Hamilton saying he feels like he has another five years in him, Mick may be waiting a good while yet for a Mercedes seat.

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