Martin Brundle believes George Russell is “ready to pick up the mantle” Lewis Hamilton will leave behind at Mercedes in 2025 after he moves to Ferrari.
Team principal Toto Wolff has also expressed his belief in Russell as a potential team leader at Mercedes once Hamilton departs, with the younger Briton having taken the team’s only victory of the ground effect era so far.
While he was well beaten by Hamilton in last year’s Drivers’ Championship, Russell has been backed to succeed when the time comes for him to step up.
George Russell has looked ‘incredibly strong, very equal’ against Lewis Hamilton – Martin Brundle
Hamilton shocked the sporting world when his move to Ferrari came to light last week, with a report quickly snowballing into a confirmation that evening that he would move to the Scuderia in 2025.
This leaves a seat free alongside Russell at Mercedes that would not otherwise have been available in 2025, and with Russell being one of three drivers on the grid to have the distinction of consecutive F3 and F2 titles on his way to the top level (along with Charles Leclerc and Oscar Piastri), his pedigree has rarely been questioned.
While former team boss Eddie Jordan was not quite sure whether or not Russell would be ready to lead Mercedes in 2025, Brundle does not feel the same way.
“I don’t think so, because nothing’s forever, is it?” Brundle said on Sky Sports News when asked if Mercedes would feel ‘let down’ by Hamilton joining Ferrari.
“You don’t sign a contract and one of the clauses is, ‘We will never leave you’, and the other side of it is, ‘We will never fire you or take somebody else.’
“It’s a moving thing in any sport, as you know, so I think it might just energise both sides.
“Mercedes have George Russell, what a brilliant young talent he is, and he’s really ready for the future.
“They can bring somebody else in now whether it’s a [Carlos] Sainz, an [Alex] Albon, they’ve got access to Esteban Ocon, for example.
“Let’s see who else they’re looking around at, but I think both Ferrari and Mercedes must see this like a reset and an opportunity.”
When asked about how the dynamic might change between the two Mercedes drivers now that it is confirmed Hamilton is leaving, Brundle believes Russell will be happy in a way to try and build the team around him for the future.
But in the here and now, the former Formula 1 driver added that if Mercedes are able to put themselves into title contention this season, the in-team battle between the two Brits would be extremely tight.
“I should think he’d be thinking [‘I’m] pleased. That’s good. I am top man here unquestionably now’,” Brundle said.
“George is ready to pick up the mantle at Mercedes Benz, there’s no doubt about it at all, and he’s measured himself against statistically and arguably the greatest Formula 1 driver of all time – that’s a debate we could have all afternoon back to Fangio and Moss – but George has measured himself against Lewis and looks incredibly strong, very equal.
“If Mercedes have got a championship winning car this year, who would win? Would it be George or Lewis? I think it’d be really close. So that’s the level that George is at now.”