Lewis Hamilton has openly admitted that his first season with George Russell was “stressful”, but insists that he’s now “back in the swing of things”.
2022 saw George Russell replace Valtteri Bottas as Hamilton’s team-mate, with the King’s Lynn-born driver having made the move from Williams.
Whilst it was known that Russell was quick, as proven at the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix where he replaced Hamilton who had COVID-19, most expected the young Brit to be comfortably slower than the 103-time race winner.
The story ended up being the other way around, as Russell claimed Mercedes’ only pole position and victory last season.
Russell even became the third team-mate of Hamilton’s to defeat him in the Drivers’ Championship, something nobody really expected to happen.
It was certainly a shock to the system for Hamilton, who hated the ‘diva’ W13.
The seven-time World Champion admits that it was a “stressful” season for him and that he can relate to how Fernando Alonso felt back in 2007, when the Spaniard partnered Hamilton at McLaren in the 38-year-old’s debut season.
“I would say last year, totally transparent, for sure I felt it,” Hamilton told M4 Sport.
“George had nothing to lose and everything to gain. If he finished behind me they would say ‘well you finished behind a seven-time world champion’ and if he finished ahead then ‘you’re a legend’.
“I know exactly what that feeling was like and I had exactly the same with Fernando.
“If I finished behind him they would say ‘we expect that it’s your first year’ and if I finished ahead of him, I was great.
“But of course, when you’re then struggling with the car and not feeling you’re able to extract your full potential it was not easy – it was stressful.”
2023 has been how most thought 2022 would go, as Hamilton has been far superior over Russell.
Hamilton sits fourth in the standings and is 49 points clear of Russell, who appears to be lacking confidence in the W14.
To put it into context, Russell has claimed one podium this season, whereas Hamilton has secured four and a pole position.
Russell even finished behind Hamilton at the race – Spanish Grand Prix – where he did claim a podium.
“This year I don’t find that at all and I feel back in the swing of things,” Hamilton added.