Lewis Hamilton has rubbished suggestions he wanted number one status over George Russell, saying that’s “not really my style”.
The seven-time World Champion will have a new team-mate next season, Mercedes saying farewell to Valtteri Bottas after five years and instead putting junior driver Russell in the car.
Many pundits are predicting the Williams driver will prove more of a challenge for Hamilton than Bottas ever did.
According to former Mercedes driver and 2016 World Champion Nico Rosberg, Russell has “nothing to lose and everything to gain” because “nobody expects you to destroy him [Hamilton] but if you manage to, you’ll be the absolute biggest hero of all time.”
As for Hamilton, Rosberg reckons “Lewis can only lose actually”.
With rumours claiming Hamilton isn’t in favour of the new line up, having wanted Mercedes to instead retain Bottas for another season or two, it has raised the question as to whether the Brit has demanded number one status over his new team-mate.
He insists the answer is no.
“That’s not really my style,” he said, as quoted by The Guardian.
“I think ever since I joined this team, I remember joining in 2013 and saying to Ross [Brawn] I just want equal opportunity.
“I think that is the most rewarding position to be in because if you do the work and you do succeed, you know you have done your job against whoever it is at their best.
“Winning when someone’s wings are clipped, that is not something that interests me.”
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Russell meanwhile says Mercedes have already told him he’ll have the same opportunities as his team-mate.
“I’m definitely going on level terms and that was made very clear to me,” he told reporters in Italy.
“Mercedes are always respectful in that regard, to give both drivers the best opportunity.
“Naturally, I believe in myself and I have high aspirations but equally I know just how tough it is going to be.
“Lewis is a seven-time World Champion for a reason and I think I’m in one of the most fortunate positions on the grid to be able to go out there and learn from him.
“For myself, I see this partnership with Mercedes as a long-term thing and I need to use next year as a real opportunity to learn everything I can and take it race by race and just see how I get on.”
Rosberg repeat with Hamilton/Russell dynamic?
What will the dynamic be at Mercedes next year now that they have signed George Russell?