Mercedes boss suggests Hamilton would be ahead of Russell without ‘bad luck’

George Russell and Sir Lewis Hamilton have managed five podiums between them this season.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff is very pleased with the harmony George Russell and Sir Lewis Hamilton have developed since the 24-year-old joined Mercedes at the start of the year.

The Silver Arrows have struggled to adapt to the new technical regulations that have seen the main bulk of the aerodynamics moved to the floor of the car.

However, the smaller emphasis that is placed on the chassis is what seemed to catch them out at the beginning of the year, and the turbulence caused the car, which is now running lower, to frequently hit the track surface in a phenomenon known as “porpoising.”

This became bouncing when they solved their aerodynamic deficiencies and lowered the car, but they appeared to get a better handle of that in Canada when the ride looked a lot more comfortable than in Baku.

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Despite the back pain the seven-time champion suffered in Azerbaijan, he managed a fourth-placed finish as Russell earned his third podium of the year in P3, before the finished the other way around in Canada – Hamilton claiming his second rostrum appearance of 2022.

The upwards trajectory after an extremely challenging few months has been made possible by the relentless work from everyone at the team, including Hamilton and Russell, who have collaborated to get the best out of the car and each other.

“I can say that within the team, [Lewis] was always very positive in his mindset,” explained Wolff.

“How the two [Hamilton and George Russell] work together is really astonishing; in the briefings they keep asking each other questions. 

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“I guess it’s going to be different if you race at the very front. 

“But no, it’s super how [Hamilton and Russell] have really helped to progress and I’m happy for Lewis because he had the bad luck on his side.

“He could have been on the podium a few times if the Safety Car hadn’t had worked against him.”

Indeed, Hamilton had been out-qualified in seven consecutive races by Russell prior to Canada, and with silly season now in full swing, AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly had been linked with a Mercedes drive.

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The Frenchman has now been confirmed at the Red Bull junior side for 2023, but is set to spread his wings and leave the nest ahead of the 2024 season, by which time Hamilton will be 39.

Wolff, however, is not looking that far ahead, and is very pleased with his British pairing. 

“Are we starting talking 2024 contracts? In June 2022?” quipped the Austrian.

“No, we are in a happy place with Lewis and there is no doubt that we are embarking the season and the next one in a good place. 

“But it’s too early to discuss 2024. But having said that, I couldn’t wish for a better driver pairing.”

Mercedes will be hoping to add a sixth and perhaps even a seventh podium finish to their tally at next weekend’s British Grand Prix in front of Hamilton and Russell’s adoring home support.