Christian Horner quizzed on Lewis Hamilton and George Russell

Lewis Hamilton opens up on difficult season for Mercedes

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Christian Horner has opened up on whether he feared Lewis Hamilton or George Russell would be more of a threat in 2023. However, the Red Bull boss sat on the fence as he praised both drivers’ campaigns.

The 49-year-old team principal stressed Russell getting the better of Hamilton in his debut season at Mercedes was “impressive”. And he believes it would be impossible to write off the seven-time champion as he tipped Mercedes to have a stronger season next year.

Horner said: “I think both those guys have had great seasons. I think George finishing ahead of Lewis in his first year in the team was an impressive performance but Lewis is obviously still right there.

“You’ve got to assume they will come back fighting hard next year and Ferrari as well will be looking to make progress. It’s set to be a real rough season next year.”

Russell finished ahead of Hamilton in the Drivers’ Championship by a staggering 35 points. The 24-year-old also secured the team’s only win of the season after a confident drive to victory at the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Meanwhile. Hamilton fell to his lowest championship finishing position of P6 after retiring from the final race of the season. The Briton failed to secure a win all year, the first time he hasn’t stood on the top step of the podium at least once in a season since his debut in 2007.

Hamilton picked up nine podiums to Russell’s eight and could have added to his own win tally had it not been for a range of issues. Contact with Max Verstappen in Sao Paulo dented his chances of challenging Russell.

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Mercedes and Hamilton also looked capable of winning at the Dutch Grand Prix and in the United States but made strategy errors at key times. New upgrades for the Silver Arrows made them more competitive towards the end of the campaign as they appeared to jump ahead of Ferrari.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff stressed the team would be back to their best next season despite their struggles. Former McLaren world champion Mika Hakkinen also suggested Red Bull would not be able to dominate in the same way in 2023.

He explained: “Regulations of Formula One are different now than it used to be in my time, or used to be three or four years ago. That gives a lot of opportunities to other teams for success. I don’t think it is so straightforward that he will continue to dominate, even as he’s a great driver. I am sure we will see some surprises.”

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