Lewis Hamilton and George Russell duel verdict given in blow to Max Verstappen title hopes

George Russell joins Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes

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George Russell will join up with Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes ahead of next season as the Silver Arrows aim for an unprecedented ninth consecutive Constructors’ Championship and the 36-year-old aims for revenge on Max Verstappen. With a new-look car and an untested partnership, the interplay between Russell and Hamilton could have a dramatic impact on Verstappen’s 2022 title defence. 

Valtteri Bottas’ departure from Mercedes is just one factor pointing towards a virtually clean slate for next season. 

Another element is a much-changed car, with new regulations aiming to promote overtaking and wheel-to-wheel combat. 

Hamilton may be glad that a line can be drawn under the 2021 season, with Verstappen pipping him to the crown on the final lap of the final race in Abu Dhabi amid controversial circumstances. 

But the Brit will have a new team-mate to contend with, and the inevitable power struggle that comes with it. 

Since his F1 debut in 2019, Russell has nurtured a reputation as a stellar performer in qualifying, and someone who broadly has overachieved with Williams. 

At just 23-years-old, next season will bring a dramatic step up in pressure, with Mercedes and Hamilton aiming for more honours and Russell aiming to prove his worth. 

However, Auto, Motor und Sport’s Michael Schmidt believes that the more experienced Hamilton will have no problem in fending off the up and coming youngster. 

“My belief is that Hamilton is better prepared for Russell than [Fernando] Alonso was for Hamilton in the past,” he said.

“Lewis remembers that year well and therefore realises what mistakes he needs to avoid.

“In addition, he is incredibly good at one-on-one duels.”

A relatively simple assignment for Hamilton when it comes to staying ahead of his team-mate could come as a blow for Verstappen and Red Bull, who will surely hope that the seven-time champion may lose out on points if Russell proves competitive. 

Team advisor Helmut Marko was not shy in stating as such, with seemingly high hopes in the Red Bull camp that Russell can give Hamilton a run for his money in 2022. 

“I first have to see how fast Russell really is,” he said.

“In qualifying, he was fast last season. But in the races, he was hardly superior to Nicholas Latifi. So we have to wait and see how fast he’s going to be in the race.

“If he can indeed match Hamilton’s speed, that could be an advantage for us.”

Given the dramatic nature of the season finale in Abu Dhabi earlier this month, next season promises to provide high-stakes, with Hamilton once again chasing his record-breaking eighth crown, Verstappen aiming to build on his 2021 triumph and Russell seeking to make a strong early impression. 

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