Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has backed Lewis Hamilton to thrive in his new-look partnership alongside George Russell. The seven-time world champion is set for another change of team-mate ahead of the 2022 season, and his boss has suggested some among the Formula 1 community ‘often wrongly question’ Hamilton’s talent for working alongside others.
Russell, 23, will become just the third driver to partner Hamilton at Mercedes as he follows in the footsteps of 2016 F1 world champion Nico Rosberg and Valtteri Bottas.
The former Williams representative will, however, be Hamilton’s first permanent British driving partner since he split up with Jenson Button and McLaren at the end of 2012.
Having ruled the roost for the Brackley-based team for so long, there have been suggestions of a potential new power struggle at the dominant manufacturer.
But the team’s chief has insisted people tend to underestimate Hamilton’s ability to play nicely with others, hinting he’s not the egomaniac some might assume.
“The size of Lewis is often wrongly questioned,” Wolff said in an interview with Auto Motor und Sport, referring to the driver’s competitive nature and ego.
Despite being pipped to the title on last season’s final lap, Mercedes and Hamilton are expected to make strides towards a record-breaking eighth world title this year.
There are many who saw last season’s result as the beginning of the Verstappen era in earnest, though Hamilton will surely put up a stiff challenge to reclaim the crown.
Russell is facing a substantial step up in his own prospects and is the third-favourite to be named champion after Hamilton and Verstappen (in that order).
The new kid on the block at Mercedes proved his potential with a runner-up finish at the Belgian Grand Prix last year, with Hamilton sure to help clinch any podium places to come in 2022.