Risk of another George Russell defeat is motivating Lewis Hamilton

George Russell became just the third team-mate of Lewis Hamilton's to beat the 38-year-old last season.

Sky Sports F1 presenter Simon Lazenby believes he’s “never seen” Lewis Hamilton “more determined”, as the 38-year-old attempts to bounce back from a disappointing 2022 campaign.

The seven-time world champion endured a horrific campaign last year, with it being the first of his career in Formula 1 where he failed to claim either a podium or a pole position.

This was largely due to the British driver being used by Mercedes to test different set-ups, due to the W13 having been so woeful.

As a result, George Russell ended his first season with Mercedes ahead of the 103-time race winner, something only two other team-mates of Hamilton have ever managed.

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Should the same happen again this season, then there won’t be any excuses to explain why Hamilton was beaten.

He at least got the better of Russell at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, with Hamilton finishing fifth with Russell in seventh.

“I think everything combined in that Lewis probably wasn’t as motivated as he could have been in the first half of last year,” Lazenby told Express Sport.

“They worked together to develop the car, George was desperate to prove himself so I think it was a combination of factors Lewis Hamilton was beaten.

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“This year, I think if it happens again it might be a slightly different story.

“I’ve never seen [Hamilton] look more physically fit, I’ve never seen him more determined.”

2023 looks set to be another really challenging year for Mercedes, with both Hamilton and Russell likely to be used to trial different set-ups.

This will be different for Russell given that he no longer has the benefit of it being his first season at the Germans, meaning more will be expected of the 25-year-old.

Lazenby added that it was a surprise to see Hamilton beaten by Russell last season, but that it’s also well known “how hard” the former Williams driver works.

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“I think yes we were surprised on the one hand that Lewis got beaten by a team-mate,” Lazenby added.

“I think it’s only Button and Nico Rosberg who have done it in the past. But we all know how talented George is. How hard he works. How determined he has been to get to the top.

“He was so desperate to get into that car. He’d taken on Lando Norris, he’d beaten Lando Norris. He knew in other formulas he was as good as, if not better than Lando Norris. Obviously, he wants to get a car that can demonstrate that. From that side of things, the hunger was obviously there as a rookie and I think for Lewis there was a hangover from Abu Dhabi 2021.”