It has been a year of two halves for George Russell in 2022, with the Brit flying out of the blocks early on to score a flurry of podiums and consistent top six finishes, while his teammate Lewis Hamilton struggled in comparison.
Coming into the second half of the season however, Hamilton began to find a car setup that suited him, finally making the adjustments on the W13 that he wanted from the beginning, and ever since has been bettering Russell on Sundays.
It has been suggested that while Russell gave it 100% with what he had from the very start, Hamilton was simply biding his time and working on the car until he was at a point where he was happy with it, with Jolyon Palmer only backing Russell to keep fourth place in the championship due to the head start he has.
“I think George will pull it off, but I think it’s mainly because of the lead he already has,” he stated.
“There are also only two races to go, so if he stays consistent, then he’s already there. But that doesn’t tell the whole story of Mercedes.
“Now that the season has progressed, Lewis is starting to look like Lewis again. People were amazed that George was in front of him, and it looked like he would easily beat Lewis in the first seven races.
“If they compete for the title next year, I’ll put my money on Lewis.”
Russell’s main advantage over Hamilton this year has been his qualifying pace, but F1 legend Damon Hill sees this as more of an expected victory due to his youth, rather than being a better driver than his veteran teammate.
“He may have lost his absolute speed over one lap a bit,” said Hill about Hamilton’s qualifying pace.
“George is a bit better at that right now. However, if you look at the races, you will see that Lewis is always the fastest. The young drivers are often fast over one lap, while the experienced drivers are stronger during the race.”
The all British driver pairing has worked will this season, with Toto Wolff describing his driver’s relationship as ‘respectful’, with Russell enjoying the learning experience, however it is yet to be seen how the pair would handle a title fight.
Hamilton famously ruined his childhood friendship with Nico Rosberg when the former Mercedes pairing fought for world titles, and Wolff will hope this breakdown in relationship will not happen at his team again in 2023.