‘Mercedes will not give any advantage’ to Lewis Hamilton or George Russell

George Russell outscored Lewis Hamilton last season, showing that he more than deserves his seat at Mercedes.

When Mercedes opted to replace the loyal Valtteri Bottas with George Russell ahead of last season, team principal Toto Wolff would have hoped that his decision would be vindicated by some strong performances.

The Austrian would never have expected Russell to outscore Lewis Hamilton, finish two places above him in the championship and pick up Mercedes’ only win of the season however.

Russell managed to consistently get the best out of a struggling W14, proving that he can get the better of his veteran teammate over the course of a season.

With Mercedes having improved over the winter break, the team now face the issue of having to potentially deal with an title battle within the team, as both of their drivers look to win the 2023 championship title.

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Former F1 champion Emerson Fittipaldi has advised Mercedes to allow their driver to battle this season, and only intervene should one driver fall out of contention for the title.

“I think Mercedes’ situation, they let the drivers fight each other. I think that’s a good policy. George was more consistent at the beginning of last season and then Lewis came back,” said the Brazilian.

“The talent and experience of Lewis is there. No doubts about that. He has a gift and the talent, and putting it together, it will be tough for both.

“It will be interesting and it is similar to the situation of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz. I think that is also interesting to keep track of.

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“At that level, Mercedes will not give any advantage to either driver until the championship points start accumulating in the year.

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“At one point, they’ll have to make the decision of putting 100 per cent effort behind Lewis or behind George. Depends on who’s where. That could happen. It can happen easily in the situation.”

Mercedes do not have a good track record with internal title battles, with Lewis Hamilton’s relationship with former teammate Nico Rosberg reaching breaking point when the pair fought over the championship title during their time together.

Russell has claimed that his relationship with Hamilton is respectful, but this could all be subject to change should the pair find themselves higher up the championship this year.