Lewis Hamilton taking a backseat role at Mercedes as George Russell flourishes

Podcast host Tom Clarkson noted an interesting dynamic developing between Lewis Hamilton and George Russell in Australia.

Formula 1 ‘Beyond the Grid’ podcast host Tom Clarkson has shared his intriguing observations on the relationship between Lewis Hamilton and George Russell at Mercedes this season.

Seven-time world champion Hamilton has been unable to establish himself as the clear and obvious number one driver since Russell arrived to replace Valtteri Bottas in 2022, following a 2021 season that saw him lose his grasp on an eighth world title in controversial circumstances.

Russell has impressed since joining the Silver Arrows and has done a tremendous job of keeping his teammate on his toes, pushing him hard and giving Mercedes a well-balanced driver pairing in a difficult time for the team on track.

But with Hamilton getting no younger and Mercedes still not looking like race or title winners once again just yet, the time to move towards Russell becoming their number one drivers feels as though it is edging closer, and that would align with Clarkson’s recent observations.

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Clarkson commented on what he noticed when spending time up close with the drivers at an FIA press conference in Melbourne.

Speaking on the F1 Nation podcast, he explained what he saw: “In the press conference [in Australia], after qualifying, they’d qualified second and third in Melbourne. Max [Verstappen], of course on pole.

“And every time a question was posed to both of the Mercedes drivers, Lewis was quite happy for George to answer the question.

“He almost became the spokesperson for the team in that press conference.”

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Amid a possible changing of the guard is occurring before our eyes at Mercedes as they look for a way to climb back to the top of the grid, he added: “And I was interested as to why Lewis was happy to just sit back and let that happen. I don’t know whether he’s sort of keeping his powder dry.”

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Clarkson instead suggested that Hamilton is keeping his cards close to his chest and giving Russell ‘false hope’ that he is the dominant one in the team, before ‘really [hitting] him hard where it matters most on the stopwatch later on’.

A disappointing 2022 season saw Hamilton fail to win a race and finish sixth in the drivers standings, compared to his new teammate Russell in fourth.

This season, though, Hamilton has looked improved despite the team still struggling to get to grips with their car, as he punched in an impressive P2 finish at the Australian Grand Prix.