Russell rubbishes rumour of rift with Hamilton after Sakhir GP

George Russell has dismissed suggestions he was no longer on speaking terms with Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton after deputising for Mercedes last year, saying their relationship is unchanged.

Russell rubbishes rumour of rift with Hamilton after Sakhir GP

Hamilton was forced to miss last year’s Sakhir Grand Prix after testing positive for COVID-19, prompting Mercedes to draft in junior driver Russell from Williams for the weekend.

Russell produced a stunning display on debut for Mercedes despite minimal preparation, qualifying second and leading the majority of the race before finishing eighth due to a pit error and a late puncture.

The performance added to calls for Russell to one day move up to the senior Mercedes squad, potentially as early as 2022 when both Hamilton and team-mate Valtteri Bottas are out of contract.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff was recently asked in an interview with Austrian newspaper Osterreich about a rumour that Hamilton and Russell were not on speaking terms.

Wolff said in the interview that he was unaware of any rift, but recognised the competition between the older and younger generations in F1. 

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W11

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W11

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Asked directly ahead of this weekend’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix about the rumour, Russell made clear that his relationship with Hamilton remained unchanged, and that nothing should be read into them not speaking specifically about the Sakhir race.

“I think the question towards me was did you speak to Lewis after Bahrain, and no, we didn’t speak, as we wouldn’t speak after any other race,” Russell said.

“We are racing against each other. If we see each other in the paddock, we would speak. We’ve seen each other this year, a little fist bump along the way, and that’s the same as it’s been since 2019 and last year before the Bahrain Grand Prix.

“My relationship towards Lewis is the same as it is with a lot of the drivers up and down the paddock, which is completely fine.

“So there’s no hard feelings and no issues between myself and Lewis.”

Russell is out of contract with Williams at the end of the season, adding to the suggestions that he could step up to Mercedes’ squad for next year, particularly off the back of his display in Sakhir.

Mercedes has always stressed its first port of call when discussing plans for 2022 would lie with current drivers Hamilton and Bottas.

Asked by Autosport if he had given any consideration to life outside of the Mercedes umbrella for 2022 should a senior seat not be available, Russell said the idea was not “even crossing my mind at the moment”.

“They have their faith in me, I have my faith in them, and time will tell,” Russell said.

“It’s been clear since day one since 2016 when I signed for Mercedes, do the job on the track and the opportunities will come, and that has been the case through GP3, F2, and then with my career in Formula 1.

“Obviously we signed the three-year deal [with Williams] back in 2018. Let’s wait and see. At the moment, that thought hasn’t even crossed my mind.”

shares
comments

Related video

How Red Bull plans to take AI in F1 to the next level

Previous article

How Red Bull plans to take AI in F1 to the next level

Next article

Perez: Red Bull must keep taking F1 qualifying strategy risks

Perez: Red Bull must keep taking F1 qualifying strategy risks
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Drivers Lewis Hamilton , George Russell
Teams Mercedes
Author Luke Smith
Why McLaren doesn’t doubt Ricciardo can escape his ‘dark’ place Plus

Why McLaren doesn’t doubt Ricciardo can escape his ‘dark’ place

Three points finishes from as many starts represents a decent opening innings on paper, but Daniel Ricciardo has endured a tough start to his McLaren career - only magnified his team-mate's excellent form. Yet both he and the team have good reason to expect a turnaround soon

What needs to “change” for Red Bull is ending Verstappen’s errors Plus

What needs to “change” for Red Bull is ending Verstappen’s errors

OPINION: Going up against the dominant force of Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton was always going to demand the best from Red Bull and Max Verstappen. But after making a couple more errors during the Portuguese Grand Prix, the Dutch driver showed there's a small gap he still needs to close in the 2021 Formula 1 title fight

Formula 1
May 5, 2021
The "subtle" Red Bull upgrades that kept it in the Portugal F1 mix Plus

The "subtle" Red Bull upgrades that kept it in the Portugal F1 mix

Red Bull's Portuguese Grand Prix fortunes were decidedly second best to Mercedes', but the result skews the potential that the team had at Portimao. With a new set of updates, the team looks good going forward into the rest of 2021's spicy F1 competition

Formula 1
May 3, 2021
Portuguese Grand Prix Driver Ratings Plus

Portuguese Grand Prix Driver Ratings

The 2021 Portuguese GP will for several drivers go down as a weekend of missed opportunities amid imperfect track conditions that caused struggles with tyre warmup. But the performances of a select few stood out from the crowd

Formula 1
May 3, 2021
How Hamilton took a “completely different journey” to Portugal victory Plus

How Hamilton took a “completely different journey” to Portugal victory

Just as he did in 2020, Lewis Hamilton had to come from behind to win the 2021 Portuguese Grand Prix. Only this time there were two rivals he had to pass, among the several challenges he had to overcome, on his way to securing a 97th grand prix victory

Formula 1
May 3, 2021
The ‘big fish’ mentality that kept an Australian legend winning Plus

The ‘big fish’ mentality that kept an Australian legend winning

Frank Gardner was the veteran of just eight grand prix starts. It could have been more, but why waste his talent if the cars weren't up to it? NIGEL ROEBUCK recalls the life of one of racing's great characters

Formula 1
May 2, 2021
Why Todt’s FIA successor could be cut from the same cloth Plus

Why Todt’s FIA successor could be cut from the same cloth

Jean Todt has signalled that he will not stand for re-election as FIA president. MARK GALLAGHER analyses the strong credentials of one potential successor…

Formula 1
May 1, 2021
The data that leaves both Red Bull and Mercedes uncertain of supremacy at Portimao Plus

The data that leaves both Red Bull and Mercedes uncertain of supremacy at Portimao

Lewis Hamilton topped the crucial FP2 session on Friday as F1 returned to Portugal, but his Mercedes team cannot be sure it has the edge on its Red Bull rivals. As cool temperatures and wind combine with the still-slippery surface to present drivers with quandaries over set-up and tyre warmup, there's still everything to play for come qualifying

Formula 1
Apr 30, 2021