Hamilton responds to Russell rift claims
By Mat Coch
Monday 17th May, 2021 - 8:04am
Lewis Hamilton has moved to hose down suggestions of a rift between he and Williams driver George Russell.
Suggestions of animosity between the duo surfaced following the Formula 1 Sakhir Grand Prix last season.
At that event, Russell substituted for Hamilton in the factory Mercedes team after the latter returned a positive coronavirus test.
That resulted in the veteran being ruled out of the event, with Russell drafted in at short notice.
He duly delivered a starring performance, qualifying second and leading much of the race.
It’s widely agreed that he’d have likely won the race were it not for a calamitous pit stop and late race puncture crippling his chances.
“Our relationship is 100 percent, still intact,” Hamilton said, rejecting suggestions the pair are not on speaking terms.
“It’s exactly the same.
“We messaged after his incident in Imola, and I hope you can see from the message I put on [social media] him so supportive of him.
“He’s going through his own journey, but he’s a great guy.
“He did a great job when he came to the team, and he’ll continue to do great jobs, so no issues.”
A Mercedes junior driver, Russell’s future seems entwined with that of Hamilton.
While the latter is 36 years old and approaching the end of his F1 career, the former is just 23 and in his third season.
It was suggested the youngster could replace Hamilton at Mercedes, though with the seven-time world champions making suggestions that he’ll carry on next season, it now seems likely they’ll end up as team-mates.
That’s because, like Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas is also on a one-year deal.
With Russell having demonstrated his ability and preparedness for the drive, and the fact he is a member of Mercedes’ junior programme, he is a strong candidate for a call-up.