George Russell makes bold claim about defeating Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton was outscored by George Russell in the 24-year-old’s first season with Mercedes.

2022 was a turbulent year for Mercedes, as a porpoising issue saw the team lose around half a season’s worth of development time, rendering them uncompetitive for the majority of the season.

Following his move from Williams at the start of the year, George Russell would have been keen to lay down a marker at Mercedes and show the team that he was not there to be Lewis Hamilton’s wingman.

Russell outscored Hamilton during their first season together, much to the surprise of fans and pundits all over the globe, but the young Brit has suggested that he always expected this to be the case, such is his confidence in his own ability.

“I never doubted myself,” began Russell. “I always believed in myself. But if you go with the mindset ‘I’m going to beat Lewis Hamilton 95% of the time’, you’re going to come away disappointed.

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“I learned how I needed to go about it when he is extraordinarily fast.

“I still need to continue to focus on myself because I still maintain the belief that if I’ve got the car beneath me, and the set-up and the tyres in the right place, working how I want it to work, I can beat him and I can beat anyone else on this grid. And that’s the belief you have to take.”

Mercedes will be braced for an internal title challenge in 2023, as Russell’s confidence will most likely see the 24-year-old size up a potential title charge should he have the car to do so, rather than play a similar role to Valtteri Bottas who would often wingman Hamilton.

Looking back at the season, Russell has boldly claimed that had small things gone his way, Hamilton would not have beaten him in many races over the course of the season.

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“I look at those races and I think if little things went slightly differently, I could have been ahead,” explained Russell.

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“He outqualified me in Montreal but if I stayed on wets, I probably would have been ahead and then would have finished on the podium.

“It was Austria where I had a small collision with Checo [Sergio Perez], I probably would have been on the podium instead of Lewis there. Silverstone, who knows what could have happened, it was very tight there.”

Valtteri Bottas never outscored Hamilton during their time together at Mercedes, suggesting that the seven-time world champion’s relationship with Russell is more likely to go down the Nico Rosberg route than the Bottas route in 2023 and beyond.