Former Formula 1 racer Perry McCarthy has suggested that new Mercedes driver George Russell will be knocking on Sir Lewis Hamilton’s door in 2022 having signed from Williams.
While out-qualifying Nicholas Latifi and Robert Kubica 57 times in 59 race weekends at the Grove-based team, Russell claimed a stunning maiden podium at the Belgian Grand Prix last season, several weeks after scoring his first Williams points in Budapest.
The 23-year-old also deputised for Hamilton in Sakhir in 2020, but was cruelly denied victory by a concatenation of unfortunate events after having dominated much of the race.
He will replace Valtteri Bottas at the Silver Arrows in 2022, with the Finn joining Alfa Romeo.
Hamilton out-qualified Bottas on 72 occasions in their 100 weekends together, and the Brit claimed the title on four of the five years they partnered one another.
As a result, Bottas ended up acting as a rear-gunner to the seven-time world champion, and speculation has been made as to whether or not the same fate awaits Russell.
Max Verstappen defeated Hamilton to the 2021 title under immensely controversial circumstances in the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, and rumours have since been sparked as to whether he will still be on the grid this year.
Assuming the 37-year-old returns and is still feeling beset by what happened in December, McCarthy reckons Russell can take full advantage.
“I think he’s going to be tapping Lewis on the shoulder, I really do,” he told Formula1News.co.uk
“And the other thing is, is that, you know, if Lewis has developed any chinks in his armour, because he does feel a little bit low, then George will be prying those open, you know, he’s going to be on the attack.”
Though going up against one of the best racing drivers in the history of the sport will undeniably be a huge challenge for the young Briton, McCarthy sees this as a great opportunity for Russell to stand out.
“Your absolute best scenario, as a racing driver, is to join a team, where you’ve got an absolutely brilliant, established star,” he explained.
“And then your job is to beat him, because suddenly, if you’ve just jumped in, and you’re beating the guy that holds pretty much every record going, then you’re looked at as being brilliant.
“So you know, racing drivers are selfish.
“You’re in this, there is an enjoyment and there is that urge to compete, but you’re looking at brand, you’re looking at reputation, you’re looking at delivering, you’re looking at winning, and your worst enemy is actually your team-mate all the way through.
“Because they’re perceived to have the same tyres, the same car, the same engine, the same opportunities.
“And if your team-mate is dusting you every week, you’re not looking that great. If you come in and dust your team-mate, especially is he’s a brilliant star, then your reputation is great.
“So that clearly is exactly what George is after.”
Ambiguity remains over whether Hamilton will be on the grid in 2022, and McCarthy recently told this publication he believes that an impending retirement is “possible.”
The new season gets underway on 20 March in Bahrain, and Mercedes will unveil their new car on 18 February.
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