George Russell and Lewis Hamilton

Formula 1 News: Russell unable to beat old-man Hamilton

(GMM) Although close in pace with soon to be 39-year old Lewis Hamilton in 2023, this season was a wake-up call for his much younger teammate George Russell.

That is the view of Jack Plooij, a commentator for Dutch broadcaster Ziggo Sport.

“I really expected Russell to beat Hamilton this year,” he admits. “Lewis is better than I think.”

Indeed, many thought seven time world champion Hamilton had hit his prime prior to his 38th birthday, and would now consistently be beaten by the rising Russell at Mercedes.

But Hamilton actually finished third overall in 2023 – a full five places ahead of 25-year-old Mercedes teammate Russell.

Lewis Hamilton, Toto Wolff and George Russell
Lewis Hamilton, Toto Wolff and George Russell

“I’ve never had a season where I’ve had so many missed opportunities,” Russell has now told the Telegraph in a new interview.

“Last year was plain sailing. It felt like a pretty normal season. But this year it’s been one thing after another. I need to try to understand why that is.

“It’s not pressure,” he insists. “I don’t care if I have the greatest driver of all time in the garage next to me, or if I’m a one-man team.”

Russell speculates that part of the issue could have been his impatience.

“Plus I had a new race engineer this year,” he reveals. “But I’ve been on Lewis’s level, on average, throughout the year. I want to be ahead of him. But I’ve also got to be realistic.”

On the bright side for Russell is that his qualifying record against Hamilton stands at 11-11 for the season, “and pace-wise, we’re generally the same as well”.

“And to be honest, I’d prefer to be sat here without the results, but with the pace. Rather than saying ‘Oh, we lucked into a result here or there’ when actually I was a tenth or two off the pace,” the British driver added.

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