Herbert: Hamilton ready to take advantage of Russell pressure

In an exclusive interview with Total-Motorsport.com, Johnny Herbert gave his thoughts on the battle between Lewis Hamilton and George Russell at Mercedes

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Three-time Grand Prix winner Johnny Herbert says he would be surprised if the handing of the baton from Lewis Hamilton to George Russell happened at Mercedes this year.

Hamilton was beaten in the championship standings by his teammate for just the third time in his Formula 1 career, after Russell finished fourth to the seven-time world champion’s sixth place in 2022.

Russell also took Mercedes‘ only pole position and victory, whilst Hamilton had his first ever winless season. However, Herbert exclusively told Total-Motorsport.com at Autosport International 2023 that the 38-year-old is still capable of winning another title.

“I think Lewis started last year probably a little bit frustrated, knowing the car wasn’t great,” said Hebert.

“I don’t think he had the right mental approach because he was probably frustrated, as a racing driver would be as a seven-time world champion, trying to get eighth, which was taken away from him.

“But now that opportunity has reset to get himself mentally and physically prepared [for this season]. It’s a good thing, maybe for Lewis, knowing that the pressure is going to be really hot from George.”

There appeared to be no sign of tension between the Mercedes pair in 2022 with very few on-track battles.

They got close towards the end of the Miami Grand Prix and Hamilton wasn’t happy with his strategy at Zandvoort that saw Russell breeze by to take second place.

Should they both be in a title fight, there is the possibility of history repeating itself with a heated inter-team battle such as the rivalry between Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.

Herbert thinks Russell and Hamilton being so closely matched could disrupt the team, but expects the latter to have the edge.

“It can be a very positive thing for a driver to know your teammate is going to be strong, to be pushed,” added Herbert. “You know you need to up your game straightaway.

2022 French Grand Prix, Sunday – Steve Etherington

“Lewis has done that in the past, but he’s coming to the end of his career. Things change as you get older and when you have a young whippersnapper coming in, who’s hungry for that success, there is going to be a crossover at some point.

“Will that be this year? I would be surprised. But I think it’s gonna be a mighty, tight tussle with George very hungry to try and take the reins away from Lewis, who won’t give up very easily as well. That’s what we want.”

Nigel Chiu
Nigel Chiuhttps://total-motorsport.com/author/nigel-chiu/
Nigel Chiu is an NCTJ-qualified journalist who worked at Total-Motorsport for 18 months until May 2023. He has been following F1 since 2007 and hasn’t missed a Grand Prix weekend since. Nigel’s worked with several motorsport websites, plus Eurosport and subsequently went on to work with Sky Sports where he travels to multiple F1 races each season.
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