Hamilton: Incredibly talented Russell will ‘bring the heat’

Lewis Hamilton says he welcomes George Russell bringing “fresh blood” to the Mercedes team next year but expects a strong challenge from the “incredibly talented” young gun.

After serving a three-year apprenticeship with Williams during which he mightily impressed the F1 community, Russell will step up to the next level next season when he takes over Valtteri Bottas’ seat at Mercedes.

On Thursday at Monza, the 23-year-old said that he views his recruitment by Mercedes as a long-term career move that will begin with a year of learning.

But many believe the Russell will challenge for race wins from the outset, and Hamilton, who has closely followed the Briton career, is expecting his teammate to “bring the heat” at the Brackley squad in 2022.

“I’ve watched a lot of the racing that he’s done, moves that he’s done,” said Hamilton. “There’s no doubt that he’s incredibly talented.

“I’ve not looked into detail where he’s weak or… that’s not something I really put much energy towards. I just know he’s going to continue to get stronger even in these next nine races and next year again he’ll be bringing the heat, for sure.”

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Next season, all top teams in F1 will have within their line-up at least one member of Grand Prix racing’s new generation, a state of affairs that Hamilton welcomes, especially at Mercedes.

“He’s a part of that younger group, I think the young talent that’s coming through is so great for the sport and it’s the future of the sport,” added the seven-time world champion.

“I think new, fresh blood in our team is going to be great, obviously because I’m the oldie there.

“I think that definitely will energize the whole team, knowing that they have a new youngster coming through who’s super-hungry, driven and will be pushing the team forwards.”

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Pitting Hamilton against a young voracious lion such as Russell is seen by some as the perfect recipe for fireworks exploding at the team.

But Hamilton believes that Mercedes’ management has the experience to avoid any major eruptions.

“It’s different in each team ultimately how it’s managed,” he said. “It’s quite a strange sport where it’s a team sport, but it’s also an individual sport, so you’ve got those two championships.

“Individually, you want to finish ahead, but at the same time you’ve got to do the job to get the team ahead.

“So it’s a difficult one to navigate through. But I like to think that we’ve experienced it and learned from it and therefore should be pretty well-set moving forwards.”

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