Hamilton Finishing Five Positions Ahead Of Russell In 2023 Didn't Surprise Hakkinen

F1
by Adam OndrikFriday, 26 January 2024 at 23:00
Updated at Saturday, 27 January 2024 at 10:36
hamiltonrussell mercedes car sambloxham
Former F1 driver Mika Hakkinen suggested Mercedes belongs to Lewis Hamilton, and he wasn't surprised when he finished five positions ahead of George Russell in 2023.
Lewis Hamilton has been with Mercedes ever since the season 2013. It is 11 seasons since his first race with Silver Arrows, and the seven-time World Champion achieved six of his seven titles with the German team.
Whenever somebody says Mercedes in F1, people imagine Hamilton, and whenever someone says Hamilton, people can only imagine him in Mercedes.
As Toto Wolff described it, the 39-year-old driver is now part of the family. Consequently, anybody who drivers alongside him will have a very challenging job. Mika Hakkinen told Bild:

"Even though George [Russell] is entering his third season as a Mercedes driver, it is clear that it is Lewis' team. He has been driving there since 2013 and has worked with many of the engineers and mechanics for years."

Put to him that George Russell beat the seven-time World Champion right in his first season with Silver Arrows, Hakkinen responded:

"That's correct. But last season Hamilton finished third and Russell only eighth. That didn't surprise me."

The thing is, even Wolff openly claims his goal is to give the 39-year-old his eighth title. That makes it seem like he is the priority in the team, and it made it hard for Russell to cope with that. The double World Champion continued:

"On the one hand, Lewis wanted to show it to everyone after the Twilight of the Gods had already been talked about, and on the other hand, George was and continues to be under immense pressure."

James Vowles, who has been with Mercedes until the end of season 2022, claimed Hamilton is the most talented driver he ever worked with.
That gives us an idea about how people within the German team perceive the number 44 driver. Russell has one of the most difficult jobs on the grid and it is up to him to prove he can take over the future of Mercedes.

"When you're the teammate of a seven-time world champion, all eyes are automatically on you. It doesn't matter if you finished on the podium if your teammate won. It's the same with all teams - but George is racing against a record-champion."