Ahead of the presentation of their 2022 car on Friday morning, Mercedes released a video of Sir Lewis Hamilton observing George Russell’s seat fitting at their Brackley base.
Rumours had spread of an impending retirement for the seven-time world champion following his controversial defeat to Max Verstappen at last year’s season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Race director Michael Masi caused no shortage of controversy when he permitted only five lapped runners to pass the Safety Car ahead of the final lap of the race at the Yas Marina Circuit, leading to a dramatic and contentious final lap overtake from the Dutchman to seal his maiden championship.
Masi has since been removed as race director after the FIA began an enquiry into the final lap, and many fans are still petitioning for the Briton to be awarded the championship.
After the incident, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff suggested that both he and his driver were left “disillusioned” with the pinnacle of motorsport, and Hamilton’s “we’ll see about next year” comment in the immediate aftermath of the curtain closer left fans wondering if he would be interested in returning.
However, he said during Mercedes’ presentation of the W13 that he is “ready to attack” again following a social media sabbatical.
Russell has been signed to replace the departing Valtteri Bottas, who left after five years with the eight-time constructors’ champions, helping them to five of their record consecutive eight and claiming 10 race victories in the process.
The Briton joins after a sensational podium in Belgium last year for Williams, and might have already notched a win for the Brackley side at the Sakhir Grand Prix in 2020 had it not been for a pit stop error and a slow puncture while deputising for the ill Hamilton.
1996 world champion Damon Hill has previously advised that the 24-year-old would do well to work with the 37-year-old rather than seeing him as his direct rival.
“It’s down to George and how he approaches it, I think. You can go into these situations and think ‘right, that’s the enemy over there and I’m out to knock spots off them’. That might not be the wisest thing to do with Lewis, I don’t think,” he said back in December.
Mercedes have returned to their traditional silver livery this season following two years running a black colour scheme in solidarity against racism following the murder of George Floyd.
Mercedes are set to run their cars in Silverstone today despite the awful weather conditions in the UK due to storm Eunice, before heading to Barcelona for the first pre-season “shakedown” in a few days’ time.