Russell warned against approaching Hamilton as his ‘enemy’ at Mercedes

George Russell has replaced Valtteri Bottas at Mercedes ahead of the 2022 season.

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1996 Formula 1 world champion Damon Hill is looking forward to how Sir Lewis Hamilton and George Russell collaborate in 2022, but has warned the young Brit against approaching the seven-time champion as his enemy.

Russell has signed from Williams to replace Alfa Romeo-bound Valtteri Bottas, and much has been made of his potential to challenge Hamilton for wins and, ultimately, a championship.

Hill has previously stated that Russell should not approach his Mercedes career with an adversarial attitude towards his more experienced team-mate, suggesting that attempting to “knock spots” off the 37-year-old would be inadvisable.

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However, in a choice between helping or attacking, Hill believes that Hamilton will gladly give a leg-up to the 23-year-old.

“It will be great to follow,” he said in an interview with

“I’m sure Lewis will encourage George. I don’t see it going wrong.

“Lewis recognises that his shelf-life in the sport is shorter than George’s, so I’m sure he’ll be willing to lend a hand if needed. That is probably not necessary at all.”

The Briton maintains his perspective that any intent to make an “enemy” of Hamilton would be ill-judged from Russell.

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“It’s up to George to decide how he’s going to handle it,” he continued. “You can approach such a situation with ‘he is the enemy and I am going to teach him a lesson’.

“That might not be the smartest thing to do with Lewis next to you. So yes, we have a lot to look forward to.”

Russell scored his first ever podium at the farcical Belgian Grand Prix last year, and deputised for Hamilton at the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix when his compatriot came down with coronavirus.

The King’s Lynn-born racer twice looked on course to claim his maiden victory in Bahrain, before a symposium of unfortunate events saw him finish a devastating ninth.

The 1996 world champion has seen everything he needs of the former Williams driver to be convinced he has the necessary attributes to compete for championships.

“The boy has everything that is needed. He’s above the rest, you know,” he added.

Lando Norris achieved four podiums and also had a victory cruelly snatched from his grasp at the Russian Grand Prix last season, and Hill holds the McLaren driver in equally high regard.

“George and Lando are both great racers. They are very strong in the race and the qualifying speed is also good,” explained the 61-year-old.

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Hill warned that life at the pointy end of the pinnacle of motorsport is a different beast to driving in the midfield or at the back, but he is confident that the young Brits will cope just fine when they are eventually both contesting wins.

“But being at the front of the race demands different things from a driver, and you can’t let that compromise your talent. That’s another challenge,” he added.

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“But they are both smart guys and I am sure they can handle it.”

McLaren and Mercedes will unveil their cars on 10 and 18 February, respectively, and the new season starts on 20 March in Bahrain following two tests in Barcelona and Sakhir.

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