George Russell gives Lewis Hamilton credit for saving his F1 career, as according to him, if Lewis had retired, Russell would not have gotten the same acclaim as he did this season.
Speaking to GPFans, George Russell revealed an inside joke between him and Lewis Hamilton where he credits the driver for staying on at Mercedes and not retiring.
George Russell, in his very first season at Mercedes, was able to outscore Lewis Hamilton and scored the team’s only win and pole position this season. He finished the season P4 in the championship while Lewis Hamilton was P6. Describing his experience of working with Lewis, Russell said:
“When you see the level he’s performing at, he looks young, he’s fit, he’s in shape. He’s enjoying racing. He’s also enjoying this journey that we’re on as a team to bring Mercedes back to the front. I’ve got a lot to thank him for because had Lewis not been my team-mate this year, people would’ve thought very differently about me this year.”
“I joke with him that he probably saved my career by staying on in Formula 1 this year because had he retired, and I had the exact same year as I’ve done this year, I’m sure perception would’ve been drastically different.”
Lewis Hamilton on working with George Russell
Hamilton did have a long-running relationship with Valtteri Bottas as his teammate before George Russell replaced him. Talking about his experience of working with Russell, Lewis felt that there had been progress and growth over the years, with the most important aspect being the progress that the team has achieved. He said:
“I think it’s been smooth and there has been a lot of growth. I have worked with many drivers before, so it was perhaps more normal for me but for him, it was probably more of an adjustment because he was new to the team and it was the first time we had worked together properly.
He’s been great to work with, pushing the car forwards technically and set-up wise. It’s been a good first year as team-mates.”
The 2023 F1 season is going to be a true litmus test of this partnership. It is expected that Mercedes will have a competitive car next season. If that happens, the two drivers that are very close to each other in terms of performance will certainly have tensions rising amongst them as the stakes will be at an all-time high.