George Russell warned about Lewis Hamilton’s ‘status’

George Russell has been defeated by Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton in 12 of the 16 completed races so far in 2023.

Ex-Formula 1 driver Anthony Davidson believes a “hierarchy” still exists at Mercedes, but that George Russell “can’t argue” about being the “understudy”.

Russell became infuriated last weekend at the Japanese Grand Prix when battling with team-mate Lewis Hamilton, initially for P8.

The pair spent most of the race battling each other rather than their rivals, something which annoyed the ex-Williams driver.

At one point in the early stages of the race, Hamilton ran wide and forced both himself and Russell off the circuit at Spoon, resulting in Russell questioning to the team who they were battling.

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Russell ended up being switched to a different strategy which saw him move up the order, before losing several places late on due to older tyres.

One of the drivers to get past him in the closing laps was Hamilton, as Mercedes instructed the 25-year-old to let the seven-time World Champion past.

Russell questioned the decision at first, before reluctantly following orders.

He went onto finish seventh whilst Hamilton finished fifth, marking the 12th time this season that the 38-year-old has finished higher.

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Despite the fact Russell finished ahead of Hamilton last season, the 103-time race winner is very much the number 1 driver still at the Silver Arrows, having been with the side since 2013.

Davidson recognises this and believes it’s completely understandable that Hamilton is the number 1, and that Russell for the time being isn’t in a position where he can argue about it.

“There’s definitely a hierarchy in that team,” Davidson told Sky Sports’ F1 Podcast.

READ: George Russell warned he must ‘think’ like Lewis Hamilton

“And rightly so. Lewis has earned that status in that team as a seven-time world champion and George can’t argue against that.

“George is still the understudy and he’s doing a very good job on those occasions where he’s got the speed over Lewis to really take the fight to him.

“But he’s doing it in such a ‘George Russell polite way’ which is quite humorous to watch because I know inside the car, he’ll be fuming and steaming.

‘And that’s why we see the near misses, the drivers coming almost to blows, almost to contact, but then he’s a good boy on the radio, he’s very British about it.”