George Russell Sees Lewis Hamilton’s Departure as a ‘Fresh Start’ for Mercedes

Hamilton has won 82 of his 103 grands prix with Mercedes and secured six of his world titles with the Brackley team.

George Russell believes Lewis Hamilton’s departure will be a “fresh start” that “ignites a new spark” for Mercedes.

Seven-time champion Hamilton shocked F1 in February by activating a break clause in his contract to join Ferrari for the 2025 season, ending the most successful driver-team partnership in history.

Hamilton has won 82 of his 103 grands prix with Mercedes and secured six of his world titles with the Brackley team.

However, he hasn’t won a race since the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

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Mercedes has faced challenges in the ground-effects era. Russell joined as Hamilton’s teammate in 2022 and secured the team’s only victory in this era at Sao Paulo in 2022.

In 2024, Russell leads Hamilton 7-1 in qualifying and 5-2 in races where both have finished, with 54 points to Hamilton’s 42.

Seen as Hamilton’s long-term successor, Russell views the departure as a necessary evolution.

“My job is to beat my teammate and get the most out of the car,” Russell told the Daily Mail.

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“It is a fresh start for the team. Many here have shared success with Lewis, but change often ignites a new spark. It sparks that for us here next year.

You have to adapt and evolve, and we are in that process of building from the ground up. It is good that Lewis is leaving us now — rather in 2021, when it would have been difficult for the whole team.”

In mid-2023, it was announced that James Allison would return to the technical director role, swapping jobs with Mike Elliott, who became chief technical officer.

The team abandoned the flawed zero sidepod design at the 2023 Monaco Grand Prix.

However, more fundamental changes couldn’t be made to the W14 mid-season, so the W15 was the first chance to implement these changes, including moving the cockpit position backward as Hamilton requested.

The W15 has yet to be as competitive as hoped, with no podiums a third of the way through the season.

Nonetheless, Mercedes is progressing, including a new front-wing introduced for Monaco.

Russell explained how the team “overshot” with the current car.

“When you look at the data and correlate it with how it feels, you understand why last year wasn’t good and nor was the year before.

“It was all at the rear and is now all at the front.

“The changes we made were too much.

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“It shows there is always a compromise.

“We have a great team, and James [Allison, technical director] is back at the helm and letting nothing slide.

“There’s clear leadership, and while I’m quite rational, morale does get knocked when you realize it is going to be a tough season.”