George Russell picked over Lewis Hamilton as Mercedes' main title challenger: "I trust him to do that"
Former Ferrari driver Felipe Massa backed George Russell over Lewis Hamilton as Mercedes' main title challenger in the future. The Brazilian was quick to note that while Russell is his pick for the future, Hamilton can never be written off.
Last season, Russell made the switch to Mercedes and partnered with Hamilton for the first time. He not only surpassed his teammate in the Drivers' Championship standings but also clinched his first career pole position and race victory in Hungary and Sao Paulo, respectively.
Although Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes were optimistic about producing a better car in 2023 after facing difficulties with the W13, early signs indicate that they are still a long way from being in contention for race victories. Red Bull is currently leading the pack, with a clear advantage over Mercedes.
Speaking about George Russell eventually challenging for the title, Massa told Bild:
“I trust him to do that. Don’t forget: last year, in his first season at Mercedes, he left Lewis behind in the World Championship. An incredible achievement. Before that, only Nico Rosberg in 2016 had achieved this in Lewis’ entire career. George is a top driver.”
Lewis Hamilton claims he should have been put on the same setup as George Russell in Jeddah
Lewis Hamilton voiced his dissatisfaction with his team's choice to give him a different setup to George Russell during the 2023 Saudi Arabian GP, which he believed put him at a disadvantage. According to the Brit, he would have performed better had they both used the same setup.
During both the qualifying and the race, Russell outperformed the seven-time world champion, securing fourth place while Hamilton came in fifth. Hamilton admitted that his setup was not suitable and had placed him at a disadvantage compared to his teammate.
Speaking about his wrong setup choices, Lewis Hamilton said (via Mirror):
"We got some great points as a team. George got third, which is amazing. I went forwards, which is always the hope, to at least go forwards, one foot in front of the other. So I'm really grateful to have come from seventh to fifth."
"Strategy just didn't really work out for me. The setup was a bit off. I think if I had the set-up that George had I would have been in a bit of a better position. Lots to work on but there are positives to take from it."
It will be interesting to see Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes' progress over the course of the 2023 Formula 1 season.