Ex-Formula 1 driver Johnny Herbert has backed Lewis Hamilton to overcome George Russell in the battle for intra-team supremacy at the Mercedes team in 2023.
Russell became only the third team-mate in F1 to beat Hamilton over the course of a year and scored the German outfit’s sole pole position and race victory last season.
But Herbert has pointed to a possible hangover from the controversial title loss at the final round in Abu Dhabi in 2021 and Hamilton being equipped with the worst Mercedes car of his spell there as the primary factors to his underperformance in the early part of last year.
“I think Lewis started last year probably a little bit frustrated, knowing the car wasn’t great,” the Englishman told Total-Motorsport.com.
“I don’t think he had the right mental approach because he was probably frustrated, as a racing driver would be as a seven-time world champion, trying to get [that] eighth, which was taken away from him.”
However, the three-time F1 winner believes Hamilton will bounce back in 2023, citing that the seven-time champion has tended to always elevate his game in the face of adversity.
“Now that opportunity has reset to get himself mentally and physically prepared [for this season]. It’s a good thing, maybe for Lewis, knowing that the pressure is going to be really hot from George.
“It can be a very positive thing for a driver to know your team-mate is going to be strong, be pushed.
“You know you need to up your game straightaway. Lewis has done that in the past but he’s coming to the end of his career.”
Providing negotiations can be finalised, Hamilton is set to sign a new contract extension with the Silver Arrows, having outlined that he wishes to continue with the team beyond 2023.
While other notable names within the F1 sector such as two-time world champion Mika Hakkinen believe that the turning of the tide has already happened within the Mercedes camp towards Russell, Herbert does not hold the same opinion and would be shocked to see Hamilton displaced in this upcoming season.
“Things change as you get older and when you have a young whisperer coming in, who’s hungry for that success, there is going to be a crossover at some point.
“Will that be this year? I would be surprised.
“But I think it’s gonna be a mighty, tight tussle with George very hungry to try and take the reins away from Lewis, who won’t give up very easily as well. That’s what we want,” Herbert expanded.
Leave a Reply