Russell ‘knows where I’ll be driving’ as Hamilton warms to prospect of new teammate

Lewis Hamilton says George Russell is “an incredibly talented driver” who he expects to have a good relationship if they are paired together at Mercedes in 2022.

Russell is expected to replace Valtteri Bottas next season, with the Finn in turn joining Alfa Romeo in place of the retiring Kimi Raikkonen. Previously Hamilton has focused on his good relationship with Bottas and not spoken freely about the hypothetical situation of being teammates with Russell, but ahead of the Dutch Grand Prix he was very complimentary about the Williams driver.

“I think it would be quite good,” Hamilton said. “I honestly think it would be good. George is an incredibly talented driver, clearly. I would say probably the only highlight from last week was his qualifying lap — it was amazing.

“I think he’s humble; he’s got a great approach. Naturally being British I would imagine probably helps in terms of communication. But at the moment naturally I have to be super supportive of the teammate I have right now, so that’s why I’m always supportive of Valtteri because we have a job to do right now. Neither of us can win the team championship alone, we have to do it collectively.

“But I think it would be… (Russell) is the future, he’s one of the members of the future of the sport. I think he’s already shown incredible driving so far and I’m sure he’s going to continue to grow. So where better to do it than in a great team like this or wherever he goes to?”

Hamilton is confident teaming with Russell wouldn’t mean a return to acrimonious duels within Mercedes, like this between him and Nico Rosberg on the last lap at the 2016 Austrian Grand Prix. Sutton/Motorsport Images

Hamilton believes his partnership with Russell would have a greater chance of being harmonious than when he was racing alongside Fernando Alonso and Nico Rosberg.

“It’s not like I have anything to prove. I raced against some incredible drivers as teammates. My rookie year I was alongside Fernando. If anything, if it does turn out I’ve got a new teammate, I’m in a different place in my life — I’m excited to see the youngsters coming through.

“It’s not that I want to lose to a youngster, naturally! But I’m excited to see the progression of the sport, as I am a fan of the sport at the end of the day. You’ve heard me earlier on in the year talk about Lando (Norris). It’s encouraging to see these youngsters come through. They’re fierce, I see a lot of myself in the younger generation. I think they’re what the sport is going to rely on moving forward.

“There will be things we learn from each other. I think it’s important that respect is always there, and communication will always be at the core of that. We’ve got an amazing setting at our team in terms of morale, in terms of our processes and how the team put their arms around the two drivers. That’s why we have harmony in our team. I think we are so much better prepared than we were in previous years.”

While no announcement is expected this weekend, Russell confirmed he knows which team he will be racing for next season.

“I know where I’ll be driving next year,” Russell said. “Verbally (told) before Spa. I’m not going to sit here and lie and not say the truth. The truth is there’s nothing to announce but I’m aware of the situation of where I’ll be racing next year and I was informed just prior to Spa.”

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