George Russell ‘doesn’t look himself’ as Lewis Hamilton solves troubling issue

Former Ferrari boss Peter Windsor has claimed that George Russell ‘doesn’t look his usual self’ in his battle with Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton, with the seven-time world champion dominating the inter-team battle at Brackley this season.

The young Briton finished the 2022 season 35 points to the good on his experienced team-mate, recording a P4 finish in the Drivers’ Championship standings and notching Mercedes’ only win of the campaign with his maiden Grand Prix victory in Sao Paulo. 

Many F1 fans expected Russell to kick on again in 2023 and stamp his authority as a team leader following his impressive debut year with the Silver Arrows, but the opposite has proven to be true.

With 12 rounds out of the way, the 25-year-old has just 99 points and just a single podium to his name, leaving him sitting P6 in the standings as the summer break comes to a close. Hamilton, meanwhile, has claimed three podiums and continues to hone in on Fernando Alonso in the fight for P3. 

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Speaking about the troubles facing Russell at Mercedes this season, Windsor explained on his YouTube channel: “George had a big moment of the downhill right-hander after Les Combes (at Spa-Francorchamps), he’d gone off, and it just looked a bit messy.

“Everything was kind of very nice over the radio, and everything was classic George, but he just doesn’t look like the George that’s been giving Lewis so much trouble certainly at the start of the year and last year. Lewis must be feeling more confident now as a result of that.”

Windsor’s comments are founded in reality, too. The man from King’s Lynn has been beaten by Lewis Hamilton in all but three races this season, leaving him 49 points behind his team-mate heading into the second half of the campaign.

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The qualifying head-to-head has been slightly more even with Russell out-qualifying his team-mate on five occasions, but even then the 25-year-old is on the losing side of the match-up. Once dubbed ‘Mr Saturday’ during his Williams days, he has been knocked out before Q3 on four separate occasions already this year.

While Russell’s long-term future with Mercedes is by no means in doubt, his performances in 2023 will be of concern to both his entourage and the team’s hierarchy. 

The former Williams driver was seen as a ready-made replacement for Hamilton in the team leader role upon joining, but he’ll need to step up in the second half of the year if he is to prove that he is ready to lead the Silver Arrows moving forward.

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