Abu Dhabi scandal blamed for George Russell defeating Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton cruelly missed out on the 2021 F1 Drivers' Championship to Max Verstappen, under controversial circumstances.

Ex-Formula 1 driver Martin Brundle and former W Series driver Naomi Schiff believe George Russell defeated Lewis Hamilton in 2022 because the seven-time World Champion needed a season to get over his 2021 defeat to Max Verstappen, which happened under controversial circumstances.

Last season, Russell shocked the world and finished above Hamilton in the Drivers’ Championship, in what was his maiden Mercedes campaign.

In doing so, the King’s Lynn-born driver became just the third team-mate of Hamilton’s to beat him in the standings, something only Jenson Button and Nico Rosberg had previously achieved.

Many pondered whether it’d happen again this season, although it’s becoming clear very quickly that Russell won’t replicate his 2022 achievement.

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Hamilton has had the upper hand throughout 2023 so far despite having finished behind Russell at the Italian Grand Prix last weekend.

Russell finished fifth whilst Hamilton claimed sixth, although the 38-year-old arguably looked stronger.

Hamilton has claimed four podiums in 2023 compared to Russell’s one, which came back at the Spanish Grand Prix.

Even on that occasion though, Russell still finished behind Hamilton.

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The pair have still been very closely matched when it comes to qualifying, but Hamilton has been superior on a Sunday.

He’s been much more like the 103-time race winner he’s known to be, something which has made many convinced that his 2022 struggles were down to the fact that he was broken after the 2021 season finale controversy.

“It took Lewis over a year to get over Abu Dhabi 2021,” Brundle said on Sky Sports F1.

“Also, things just weren’t falling for him particularly well. I think George has been through a difficult time where it hasn’t paid off for him, as such. But you have to say, at the moment, Lewis has the upper hand in that duo in terms of the results and the speed that he’s showing. But they are so close, those two.”

Schiff completely agreed with Brundle’s take on Russell beating Hamilton and insists that the Stevange-born driver wasn’t bothered about beating his team-mate last season.

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She pointed out that Russell and Hamilton were “psychologically in very different places”, with Russell in particular having been on real high.

“No driver likes to be beaten by their team-mate. But last year, I don’t think that was on the top of Lewis’ mind,” Schiff said.

“They both came into that season psychologically in very different places. Lewis coming from Abu Dhabi 2021 and George just coming out of the Williams into the big team.

“Totally different emotions and coming into a difficult car. As well, to not be able to get that title back. It was difficult for Lewis last year, but he’s back.”