Lewis Hamilton loses number one driver status

Lewis Hamilton has been key to Mercedes’ dominance over the last decade, but George Russell has cost him his number one driver status.

Mercedes have spent the last five years operating with a clear number one and number two driver, with Lewis Hamilton being the priority of their driver pairing.

Valtteri Bottas was unfortunately not the calibre of driver able to beat the 37-year-old over the course of a whole season, leading Mercedes to deploy the Finn in a wingman role, often sacrificing his races to help the seven-time world champion.

Bottas was famously asked to abort his fastest lap attempt in Zandvoort in 2021 but still set the quickest time of the race, leading Hamilton to have to put in a stellar final lap to snatch the extra point back off of his teammate.

George Russell was brought in to Mercedes to replace Bottas for 2022, and after outscoring Hamilton in his first season with the team, Sky Deutschland commentator Sascha Roos believes that Hamilton’s time as a number one driver is up.

READ: Jost Capito opens up on Nyck de Vries finally getting F1 opportunity

“I didn’t think Russell would score more points than Hamilton in his first year,” admitted Roos.

“I expect more from Hamilton in 2023 but I put it in pencil whether he is the undisputed number one. I think it’s a similar situation at Mercedes now as in the time when Nico Rosberg was next to Hamilton.

“In the end last season, it was a clear story in Russell’s favour and I think Mercedes handled it very fairly.”

Hamilton has a track record of struggling to cope with competitiveness within the team, famously ruining his childhood relationship with Nico Rosberg as the pair battled it out for the championship during their time together with the Silver Arrows.

Article continues below

The Brit refused to help Rosberg in Abu Dhabi as his teammate was on the verge of title glory, and took the German out of the race in Barcelona as their wheel to wheel racing boiled over.

Roos has suggested that Mercedes were not entirely fair to Rosberg during his battle with Hamilton, and has claimed that he does not see Russell enduring a similar fate to the German.

“I don’t think there will be a situation between Hamilton and Russell as there was between Hamilton and Rosberg,” claimed Roos.

READ: ‘Just feels sluggish’: Charles Leclerc opens up on 2022 car

“At that time, to the outside world, it was always emphasised that Rosberg and Hamilton were on equal footing. But internally, Hamilton was preferred, in my opinion.

“When Valtteri Bottas came in, Hamilton was the clear number one to the outside. But Russell is not Bottas. Russell is more likely to enjoy Rosberg’s status.”

Russell picked up Mercedes’ only win in 2022 and has recently claimed that he believes he can beat any driver on the grid, should the team provide him with a car capable of doing so next season.