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Formula 1

Hamilton: Russell has ‘rightly earned’ place at Mercedes

by Scott Mitchell-Malm
3 min read

Lewis Hamilton says George Russell has “rightly earned” his place in Mercedes’ Formula 1 team for 2022.

After lengthy speculation Mercedes has finally confirmed Russell will race for the world champion team next season in place of Valtteri Bottas.

Hamilton has been effusive in his praise of Bottas during their five-year partnership, as Bottas joined Mercedes in 2017 as the replacement for retiring world champion Rosberg and helped create a much better atmosphere inside the team.

Unlike Rosberg, Bottas has never clashed with Hamilton on-track or resorted to mind games, supporting Hamilton in his run to four straight drivers’ titles and helping Mercedes win every championship as well.

Though he called Bottas his best team-mate in a social media message on Monday acknowledging Bottas’s impending move to Alfa Romeo, Hamilton has also adopted a warm stance towards Russell joining Mercedes in Bottas’s place.

Prior to the Dutch GP weekend, Hamilton made it clear how much of an asset Russell would be to Mercedes and why he did not feel the team’s harmonious atmosphere was in jeopardy.

And on Tuesday, Hamilton wrote on social media: “I want to take a moment to welcome [Russell] to the team.

“I remember meeting him when he was young, dreaming of one day being a Formula 1 driver.

“I’d only just reached my own dream of becoming an F1 driver, so I know what this day means and how it will feel for him.

“He is a great example to all the kids out there that dreams do come true when you chase them wholeheartedly.

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Sakhir Grand Prix Qualifying Day Sakhir, Bahrain

“Through hard work he has rightly earned his spot on our team.

“I look forward to seeing him grow as a driver with this great team and working with him to raise [Mercedes] higher.”

Russell has been part of the Mercedes set-up since he became a junior driver in 2017, before winning the GP3 and Formula 2 titles back-to-back.

He also acted as a Mercedes test driver in those years and was its reserve in 2018 which enabled him to observe Hamilton up close.

Since then, Russell has repeatedly stated his respect and admiration for Hamilton, who he has called F1’s greatest ever driver.

Now Russell says he is “absolutely buzzing” to start with Mercedes and called it “a huge opportunity I want to grab with both hands”.

“But I’m under no illusions as to the scale of the challenge,” he said. “It’s going to be a steep learning curve.

“Valtteri has set a high bar, consistently delivering week in and week out, scoring wins, pole positions and helping win multiple championship titles.

“My target must be to reward the trust that Toto [Wolff], the team, and the board have placed in me by ensuring I play my part in continuing that success and I want to do my new team-mates proud.

“Of course, one of those new team-mates is in my opinion the greatest driver of all time.

“I’ve looked up to Lewis since I was in go-karts and the opportunity to learn from someone who has become a role model both on and off track can only benefit me as a driver, a professional, and a human being.”

Sep 07 : What to expect from Russell at Mercedes in F1 2022
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