Although Mercedes never actually works with a real first and second driver on paper, Lewis Hamilton has regularly received a gift from teammate Valtteri Bottas through team orders in recent years. The Finn switched to Alfa Romeo with effect from 2022, and the vacant position at Mercedes now belongs to George Russell. The driver, who came over from Williams, has put in strong performances in his first five outings as a Hamilton team-mate. While the seven-time world champion seems to have more trouble with the W13 and sometimes underperforms, Russell has finished in the top five in every race so far.
Some analysts have already concluded that there has been a changing of the guard at Mercedes, with Russell increasingly taking on the role of lead driver. Team boss Toto Wolff stressed in conversation with OE24.at that he can only laugh at such suggestions. “I can hardly follow that. And when I hear a comment, I can’t help but laugh. George is fine, but that’s what we expected from him. That’s why he drives for Mercedes.”
Much has been said about Hamilton’s off-track activities. Recently, for example, he has regularly spoken out against the ban on wearing jewelry at races. Analysts believe that the Briton is too concerned with such marginal things and therefore does not act at the level of his skills, but Wolff sees it differently. “I don’t notice that in the team. It’s all background noise played through the press. Lewis and George push each other.”
But that doesn’t change the fact that Mercedes is still unable to get the full potential out of the W13. Friday in Miami offered hope with Russell’s best time in the second free practice, but on Saturday and Sunday there was again a significant deficit. Red Bull race and Ferraris. But Wolff still believes in a trend reversal and has not yet forgotten the world title. “No, we haven’t given up the world title yet. We’ve only had five races so you can’t do without anything at this point. It could still go our way. And in terms of points, we’re not far behind.”