Lewis Hamilton sent urgent warning on George Russell threat

Hamilton opens up on plans to remain in F1 ahead of new season

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Lewis Hamilton has been warned it will be a “different story” if George Russell beats him for a second season, according to Sky Sports F1 host Simon Lazenby. Russell finished 35 points ahead of Hamilton in the standings last season to become just the third team-mate to beat the F1 icon.

Mercedes blamed the deficit to Russell on “set-up experiments” while team boss Toto Wolff played down Russell’s achievements at the end of the year.

Lazenby feels “everything combined” for Russell last season which was why he managed to find himself ahead of his more experienced team-mate in the standings. However, the broadcaster has claimed it may not be so easy to cover for Hamilton again in 2023.

He told Express Sport: “I think everything combined in that Lewis probably wasn’t as motivated as he could have been in the first half of last year. They worked together to develop the car, George was desperate to prove himself so I think it was a combination of factors Lewis Hamilton was beaten.

“This year, I think if it happens again it might be a slightly different story.

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“I’ve never seen [Hamilton] look more physically fit, I’ve never seen him more determined.” The former Williams star finished all but three races in the top five with his consistency vital to his success.

The 25-year-old enjoyed a head start as he secured podiums while Hamilton struggled to find a quick fix. However, Russell’s success was not purely down with luck with the Kings Lynn star securing the team’s only win of the season in Brazil.

Russell started 2023 on a positive footing after beating Hamilton over the first qualifying session of the season. He was sixth quickest in Bahrain on Saturday, ahead of Hamilton in P7.

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However, he dropped behind the seven-time champion during the course of the race to take the chequered flag seventh to Hamilton’s fifth. But, Lazenby adds it is still a shock to see Russell performing so well against his more experienced team-mate.

Lazenby added: “I think yes we were surprised on the one hand that Lewis got beaten by a team-mate. I think it’s only Button and Nico Rosberg who have done it in the past. But we all know how talented George is. How hard he works. How determined he has been to get to the top.

“He was so desperate to get into that car. He’d taken on Lando Norris, he’d beaten Lando Norris. He knew in other formulas he was as good as, if not better than Lando Norris. Obviously, he wants to get a car that can demonstrate that. From that side of things, the hunger was obviously there as a rookie and I think for Lewis there was a hangover from Abu Dhabi 2021.”

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