Ex-Formula 1 driver Johnny Herbert believes Mercedes already have the perfect replacement for Lewis Hamilton: team-mate George Russell.
Even though Hamilton might continue racing for Mercedes for a couple more seasons, Herbert sees Russell as the Brackley-based team’s “future”.
Russell has certainly done exceptionally well since switching from Williams to Mercedes at the start of last season, with his 2022 performance having been sublime.
Last year, Russell became just the third team-mate of Hamilton’s to finish ahead of him in the Drivers’ Championship.
The remarkable feat saw the 25-year-old join Jenson Button and Nico Rosberg in the exclusive club, highlighting how talented the Briton is.
Whilst he’s behind Hamilton this season and has arguably found it more challenging to beat the seven-time World Champion, Herbert is convinced that Russell’s arrival has been a “wakeup call” for the 103-time race winner.
Herbert is certain that Russell is a driver who can take over the lead driver role from Hamilton when he does eventually call it a day, leaving Mercedes in a “very lucky position”.
“Mercedes are in a very lucky position because we are all very aware of what George Russell does,” Herbert told OLBG.
“He has really stepped up and he has really put Hamilton under a lot of pressure. Russell is the future whatever we think of Hamilton, who we know is still good enough to win races.
“Russell is more than capable of being the driver to produce what Mercedes need and who will be very beneficial to them in the future.
“We are in a very different scenario because Mercedes are not able to give Hamilton or Russell a car which they are able to win a world championship with. The whole raison d’etre of a driver is to be world champion.
“You are always aware of what is going around you, you are always aware of who might be the next team with the potential to be with.
“Hamilton has definitely had a wakeup call in the last couple of seasons where Mercedes are not on top of their game as they once were.
“Hamilton will be thinking, ‘Where am I going to get that chance of an eight title?’ He deserves it for all the reasons we know about. Where is going to give me that fulfilment to be able to do that?’”