Lewis Hamilton warned about being beaten by George Russell again

George Russell became just the third team-mate of Lewis Hamilton's to beat him in the drivers' championship last season.

Sky Sports F1 presenter Simon Lazenby believes it will be a “slightly different story” if Lewis Hamilton is beaten in the drivers’ championship for a second consecutive season by George Russell, with the seven-time world champion having had an excuse in 2022 for being beaten.

By beating Hamilton in the standings last season, Russell became just the third team-mate of the 38-year-old’s to have done so, joining Jenson Button and Nico Rosberg in an exclusive club.

In Hamilton’s defence, he entered 2022 having considered leaving the sport, following the controversial handling of the 2021 season finale in Abu Dhabi, where he lost an unprecedented eighth world title on the final lap to Max Verstappen.

As a result, the 103-time race winner was understandably not “as motivated” as usual, according to Lazenby.

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As well as this, Hamilton spent the bulk of 2022 trialling different set-ups in the W13, in order to find one that actually resulted in strong performance.

Russell was largely given a base setup to just get on with last season, given that he was settling into the Brackley-based team.

With the 25-year-old now in his second campaign for Mercedes, though, he is likely going to be used in a more similar role to Hamilton, with the duo likely to share the responsibility of trialling new set-ups.

With this in mind, Mercedes might have to take notice should Russell beat Hamilton again; however, Lazenby has revealed that he’s “never seen” Hamilton “more determined”.

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“I think everything combined in that. Lewis probably wasn’t as motivated as he could have been in the first half of last year,” Lazenby told Express Sport.

“They worked together to develop the car. George was desperate to prove himself, so I think it was a combination of factors Lewis Hamilton was beaten.

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“This year, I think if it happens again, it might be a slightly different story. I’ve never seen [Hamilton] look more physically fit. I’ve never seen him more determined.”

Hamilton did get the better of his team-mate at the Bahrain Grand Prix comfortably after finishing fifth, with Russell having claimed seventh.

The Stevenage-born driver was still 51 seconds behind Verstappen, though, highlighting the difficult position that Mercedes currently find themselves in.