Christian Horner makes George Russell and Daniel Ricciardo link to explain Lewis Hamilton

George Russell joins Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes

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The Red Bull team principal warned Mercedes will have a “different dynamic” in 2022 which could unsettle Hamilton. He even drew on his own experience when Daniel Ricciardo came into Red Bull to replace Mark Webber in 2014.

Ricciardo was instantly on the pace, outsourcing Vettel in three of the first five races. Ricciardo even beat Vettel in the points standings in his first season at Red Bull, scoring over 70 more points.

Horner said: “For Mercedes, it’s a different dynamic to the one they’ve had for four or five years with Valtteri Bottas. George Russell is a quick lad. He’s young, ambitious, he’s not going to just be Lewis’s wingman.”

He added: “Equally, they know Hamilton is completing the final laps of his career and want a successor ready. Russell is that man. It’s a harder gameplan with two centre forwards.

“I remember when Daniel Ricciardo came into our team with Sebastian Vettel. Daniel was a young guy, couple of years’ experience, similar to George. He won three races to Sebastian’s zero and beat him in the championship. And that was a big factor in Sebastian moving to Ferrari.

“Daniel came in without the pressure and drove a brilliant season. Hamilton versus Fernando Alonso was also like that — it’s the natural evolution of sport. When you’ve got a clear strategy, it makes life easier. We’ve got a clear set-up at Red Bull.

“Both drivers get the same chance but we expect Max to be the challenger. It’s a difficult dynamic.”

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The last time Mercedes had two drivers battling for the same title came in 2016 when Nico Rosberg was alongside Hamilton. However, tensions spilled over throughout the season, culminating in a crash between the pair at the Spanish Grand Prix.

Rosberg eventually pipped Hamilton to the title before returning at the end of the season. But, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff may have learned his lessons from the past after claiming he would not allow the situation in the team to dissolve again.

He said: “If the debriefing room is full of negativity because the two drivers are hostile with each other then that will spill over into the energy in the room and that is not something I will ever allow again.”

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