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
The “solemn promise” that cost quiet hero Brooks an F1 title Plus

The “solemn promise” that cost quiet hero Brooks an F1 title

After two terrifying crashes, one of the best British racers of the 1950s retired before his career peaked. But that’s why GP Racing’s MAURICE HAMILTON was able to speak to Tony Brooks in 2014. Like his friend Stirling Moss, Brooks was regarded as one of the best drivers never to have won the world championship. Here, as our tribute to Brooks who died last month, is that interview in full

Inside the Faenza facility where AlphaTauri’s F1 pragmatic vision is realised Plus

Inside the Faenza facility where AlphaTauri’s F1 pragmatic vision is realised

AlphaTauri’s mission in F1 is to sell clothes and train young drivers rather than win the championship – but you still need a cutting-edge factory to do that. Team boss Franz Tost takes GP Racing’s OLEG KARPOV on a guided tour of a facility that’s continuing to grow

Formula 1
Jun 26, 2022
Connecting two of Ferrari's favourite F1 sons Plus

Connecting two of Ferrari's favourite F1 sons

Gilles Villeneuve's exploits behind the wheel of a Ferrari made him a legend to the tifosi, even 40 years after his death. The team's current Formula 1 star Charles Leclerc enjoys a similar status, and recently got behind the wheel of a very special car from the French-Canadian’s career

Formula 1
Jun 24, 2022
How a 30cm metal wire triggered open warfare in the F1 paddock Plus

How a 30cm metal wire triggered open warfare in the F1 paddock

Porpoising has become the key talking point during the 2022 Formula 1 season, as teams battle to come to terms with it. An FIA technical directive ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix and a second stay appearing on the Mercedes cars only served to create a bigger debate and raise tensions further

Formula 1
Jun 23, 2022
Does Verstappen have any weaknesses left? Plus

Does Verstappen have any weaknesses left?

Having extended his Formula 1 points lead with victory in Canada, Max Verstappen has raised his game further following his 2021 title triumph. Even on the days where Red Bull appears to be second best to Ferrari, Verstappen is getting the most out of the car in each race. So, does he have any weaknesses that his title rivals can exploit?

Formula 1
Jun 22, 2022
How F1's future fuels can shape the automotive sector Plus

How F1's future fuels can shape the automotive sector

In 2026, Formula 1 plans to make the switch to a fully sustainable fuel, as the greater automotive world considers its own alternative propulsion methods. Biogasoline and e-fuels both have merit as 'drop-in' fuels but, equally, both have their shortcomings...

Formula 1
Jun 21, 2022
The breakthrough behind Sainz’s best weekend of F1 2022 so far Plus

The breakthrough behind Sainz’s best weekend of F1 2022 so far

OPINION: Carlos Sainz came close to winning in Monaco but needed that race’s specific circumstances for his shot at a maiden Formula 1 victory to appear. Last weekend in Canada, he led the line for Ferrari in Charles Leclerc’s absence from the front. And there’s a key reason why Sainz has turned his 2022 form around

Formula 1
Jun 21, 2022
Canadian Grand Prix Driver Ratings 2022 Plus

Canadian Grand Prix Driver Ratings 2022

Plenty of high scores but just a single perfect 10 from the first Montreal race in three years, as Max Verstappen fended off late pressure from Carlos Sainz. Here’s Autosport’s assessment on the Formula 1 drivers from the Canadian Grand Prix

Formula 1
Jun 20, 2022