"Lewis always wanted to keep Valtteri": F1 pundit claims Lewis Hamilton did not want George Russell as a teammate at Mercedes
F1 pundit Peter Windsor recently claimed that Lewis Hamilton wanted Valtteri Bottas to stay in Mercedes. After the 2021 F1 season, Bottas left the Silver Arrows and moved to Alfa Romeo, with George Russell replacing the Finnish driver.
While speaking on his YouTube channel, Windsor painted a picture of how the relationship and rivalry between Hamilton and Russell could pan out if Mercedes developed a championship-winning car.
“You could tell that there is definitely acrimony between the two now – and that’s not a good thing. Imagine if Mercedes had a Championship-winning car and this was the World Championship and grand prix wins they were racing for; imagine what it would be like between Lewis and George,” he stated.
Since George Russell has worked his way up the Mercedes ladder to drive for the team in Formula 1, he will surely be much hungrier to win his maiden world championship. Russell's ambition could clash with Lewis Hamilton's bid to win his eighth world title, thus resulting in an imbalance.
“If they do get in a position actually to be doing something serious in 2024 – a big ask, you’ve got to say – then how are you going to manage that Lewis Hamilton/George Russell imbalance?” Peter Windsor added.
Peter Windsor is of the opinion that Hamilton somewhat wanted Valtteri Bottas to stay at Mercedes and even called the Finnish driver his best-ever teammate. This is because Bottas did not really put up a challenge against the Brit, which essentially balanced the team and allowed Mercedes to dominate.
Windsor also added how a similar situation can be seen in Red Bull with Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez.
“Lewis always wanted to keep Valtteri, not necessarily because he loved Valtteri but because it was the right balance of the team. He could feel that. That was the same as Max Verstappen [and] Sergio Perez. It came to the surface more than ever before, I think, in the Japanese Grand Prix,” he stated.
Lewis Hamilton takes a subtle dig at George Russell after the 2023 F1 Japanese GP
George Russell refused to switch places with Lewis Hamilton at the 2023 F1 Japanese GP even though it was a team order. He delayed the switch, which caused Carlos Sainz to bridge the gap between him and Hamilton.
After the race, Hamilton stated that he was focused on bagging the maximum points for Mercedes and beating Ferrari. The seven-time world champion also mentioned that he and Russell are not really competing for the driver's championship as the latter has way fewer points.
"We are not fighting for drivers' positions in the championship. Because, firstly we are not close, and secondly we are not fighting for the [drivers' championship's top spot]. So, now it's about just getting the maximum points for the team, and I think that's what we did there," Hamilton told F1TV.
While Lewis Hamilton finished fifth in the Japanese GP, George Russell ended up in the seventh spot.