Hamilton: 2022 team-mate call wasn’t my decision

Date published: September 10 2021 - Michelle Foster

Lewis Hamilton and George Russell on the podium at Spa.

Lewis Hamilton did not have much influence over Mercedes’ 2022 driver decision, saying he gave his opinion but that it “wasn’t” his decision.

Having announced earlier this year that Hamilton would stay on at Mercedes for a further two seasons, a question mark remained over the name of his team-mate.

After months of speculation and Hamilton bigging up Valtteri Bottas as his “best” team-mate ever, Mercedes announced this week that George Russell would be taking the second seat.

The Williams driver, a Mercedes protégé, will replace Bottas who is off to Alfa Romeo where he is taking Kimi Raikkonen’s vacant seat.

The decision wasn’t the one that Hamilton wanted, that’s what the rumours say at least, but Hamilton concedes it “wasn’t” his call to make.

Asked if he had any influence over the decision, the seven-time World Champion said: “Not much.

“I was asked for my opinions about Valtteri and George, and I gave it to them. But in the end it wasn’t my decision.”

The big question many are already asking is will Russell to a bigger challenge than Bottas was.

Hamilton replied: “All I know is that George is very fast. Whether he will be faster than Valtteri, I have no idea.”

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But what he is expecting from his young team-mate is someone who will “energise” the entire team.

While Hamilton will enter his 17th season in Formula 1 next year, for Russell it is only his fourth.

“I have watched George come through Formula 3, GP2 [Formula 2] and of course, I have watched a lot of the racing he has done, moves he has done,” he said.

“There is no doubt that he is incredibly talented. I have not looked into detail where he is weak, it is not something I put energy towards.

“I just know he is going to get stronger, even in the next nine races and next year again, he will be bringing the heat for sure.”

He added: “He’s a part of that younger group. The younger talent that is coming through is so great for the sport and it’s the future of the sport.

“Fresh blood in our team is going to be great because I’m the oldie there and that’s definitely going to energise the whole team knowing they have a new youngster coming through who is super hungry, driven and will be pushing the team forwards.”

 

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