Mercedes: What’s gone wrong at the F1 and can they recover?
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George Russell has claimed the intra-team battle with Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes will not boil over as he accepts Hamilton is the “captain”. Russell says both him and Hamilton were not fighting for the “top leadership spot” in the team, shooting down any rivalry between the pair.
The former Williams man claimed Hamilton has been at the Silver Arrows for “so long” and so “should” be the de-facto leader despite his points deficit. Russell has had a stronger start to the new season, leading his seven-time champion team-mate by nine points after the first three races.
Hamilton’s last proper challenge from a team-mate came in 2016 when Nico Rosberg pipped him to the crown. However, the team lost control of the pair with the tension reaching breaking point after contact at that season’s Spanish Grand Prix.
Speaking to Sky Sports F1, Russell said: “We’re at just different stages of our career. There’s no hard feelings either way. From my side, I’m 24 years old going up against the greatest of all time.
“If he were to finish ahead of me obviously I don’t like it but I’m not going to cry and sulk about it. Equally from Lewis’ side, he has achieved so much, he’s a seven-time world champion, he has all the records.
“You see it sometimes when you have drivers who are at the same stage of their career. There’s no number one or number two at Mercedes but in the back of all drivers’ minds you’re fighting for that top leadership spot.
“Whereas for both of us there isn’t that because Lewis has been here for so long. I’m the new kid within the team and I’m not going to go out there trying to be the leader of the team.
“I’m going up against the greatest of all time who’s been here for 10 years. He is the captain of the team and that’s how it should be.”
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Russell has picked up three top-five finishes this season including his second career podium in Australia last time out. Meanwhile, Hamilton has struggled for performance and been unable to close the gap to the pacesetters of Ferrari and Red Bull.
Hamilton scored a podium in Bahrain after a double Red Bull retirement and benefited from similar problems to finish fourth in Australia. However, he was unable to escape the first part of qualifying in Saudi Arabia and was only able to recover to tenth to score one point.
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