Mercedes warned ‘sensitive’ Hamilton could be irritated by Russell

Sir Lewis Hamilton has been joined at Mercedes by George Russell in 2022 after the departure of Valtteri Bottas.

Mika Hakkinen has described Sir Lewis Hamilton as a “sensitive person,” and warns that he could therefore end up feeling antagonised by the presence of George Russell.

Russell is the sixth team-mate that Hamilton has had since the beginning of his Formula 1 career in 2007, and his relationships with them have proven a mixed bag – from the placid relationships with the likes of Heikki Kovalainen, Jenson Button and Valtteri Bottas, to the volatile ones with Nico Rosberg and Fernando Alonso.

Russell has been signed from Williams to replace Bottas after he joined Alfa Romeo following a five-year-stint alongside the seven-time champion, and there is growing anticipation that Russell could mount a more substantial challenge of his compatriot than the 32-year-old did before him.

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As a result of that, the double world champion predicts that their thus far cohesive relationship could take a turn for the worse.

“I believe and I know from my experience that Lewis is relatively sensitive,” he said in conversation with Unibet.

“He is a sensitive person. When Valtteri was Lewis’ team-mate, the teamwork was perfect.

“Now, the support he’s going to get from Russell, the teamwork could be lost. That’s where Lewis can become irritated.”

Hamilton was cruelly defeated late on by Max Verstappen last season at the 2921 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as the Dutchman dramatically claimed his maiden world championship.

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After an astonishing season of racing between last year’s title protagonists, the Finn has tipped the 24-year-old to reach an even higher level in 2022.

“I’m sure he will be faster than ever, I know from my experience that a title is about two-tenths per lap faster,” he explained.

“It’s incredible, but it makes you more confident. The driving becomes more precise. You don’t just go full speed, you also know what a good lap is. I think Max is capable of that.”

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At present, it appears that Hamilton’s relationship with his younger team-mate will be one of solidarity in the face of adversity as Mercedes look to get to the bottom of the issues that have affected their car under the new technical regulations.

The 37-year-old did manage a podium last weekend in Bahrain though after a double reliability failure for Red Bull’s Verstappen and Sergio Perez, but they were comprehensively out-paced by Ferrari, who managed a one-two through Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz.