Formula 1 teams usually adopt one of two models with their driver pairing: they take one two very similar drivers to build a strong team, such as Ferrari with Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, or they acquire a championship contender and a wingman, such as Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez.
Mercedes have switched between the two during their time in Formula 1, with Nico Rosberg challenging Lewis Hamilton every step of the way during their time together, and Valtteri Bottas happy to play the ultimate team game in Hamilton’s title charges.
It is yet to be seen how George Russell will act if Mercedes give their drivers the opportunity to challenge for race wins more often in 2023, but after tasting victory in Brazil, it seems unlikely that the 24-year-old will be happy to be the bridesmaid in a 2023 title race.
Sky Deutschland commentator Sascha Roos has suggested that Hamilton’s hopes for next season hinge on how Mercedes treat their two drivers, hinting at a repeat of a Nico Rosberg situation.
“I didn’t think Russell would score more points that Hamilton in his first year,” claimed 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.”
Roos has explained that he believes Mercedes were slightly bias towards Hamilton during his time battling Rosberg, despite the team claiming to have adopted a neutral stance between the pair.
It is for this reason that the commentator suggests that the Silver Arrows are not in for a repeat of the toxic driver pairing.
“I don’t think there will be a situation between Hamilton and Russell as there was between Hamilton and Rosberg,” stated Roos.
“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 umber one to the outside. But Russell is not Bottas. Russell is more likely to enjoy Rosberg’s status.”
Toto Wolff has already explained that the team are prepared to manage an internal championship battle should Mercedes be competition at their best again next season, and has claimed that his driver’s competitive personalities makes them championship worthy rather than a problem.