How Russell has proven he deserves to be Hamilton's Mercedes heir
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How Russell has proven he deserves to be Hamilton's Mercedes heir

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He’s fast, he’s smart, and he’s already shown he’s not going to let Max Verstappen intimidate him. George Russell won’t say it, but LUKE SMITH says he’s ready to take the lead at Mercedes when Lewis Hamilton moves on to a quieter life. And – whisper it – Mercedes and Lewis are starting to think so too

As reigning world champion Max Verstappen closed in on the silver Mercedes and lined up a move early in this May’s Spanish Grand Prix, the outcome seemed preordained. Throughout Verstappen’s Formula 1 title campaign last season, his duels with fierce rival Lewis Hamilton would typically unfold along familiar lines: Max would make an assertive lunge of the let-me-through-or-we-crash variety and, if Lewis wasn’t accommodating enough, the carbonfibre would fly.

This time it was different. Verstappen was fighting a much weaker Mercedes in Barcelona, meaning a pass was unlikely to require much heavy lifting. Still, it was a pass he had to make if he wanted to be in contention for the win. Max slung his car up the inside into Turn 1, edging his car further left to leave scant millimetres more than the one-car gap required. This was a manoeuvre virtually guaranteed to make most drivers – even those from the top drawer – capitulate.

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