The Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka was not just another thrilling race; it provided a glimpse into the simmering tension between Mercedes teammates George Russell and Lewis Hamilton. F1 commentator Peter Windsor sheds light on this dynamic and its implications in his recent analysis.
The Suzuka race delivered an electrifying showdown between Russell and Hamilton. The Mercedes duo engaged in intense wheel-to-wheel battles, keeping fans at the edge of their seats. Russell’s early overtake of Hamilton at the final chicane set the stage for an enthralling duel. Hamilton swiftly retaliated on the main straight with a decisive move, even pushing his younger teammate off the track at Spoon Curve. As the race neared its end, Russell, on a one-stop strategy, found himself displeased when instructed to concede fifth place to Hamilton. Ultimately, he finished seventh after being overtaken by Carlos Sainz’s charging Ferrari.
Russell’s arrival at Mercedes in 2022 marked a significant shift. He replaced Valtteri Bottas, who had dutifully supported Hamilton during his streak of five consecutive World Championships from 2017 to 2020. Russell’s remarkable victory at Interlagos in November 2021 showcased his potential as a formidable competitor.
Bottas, now 34, played a pivotal role in Alfa Romeo-branded Sauber’s resurgence in 2022, contributing to their best Constructors’ Championship result in a decade. Notably, he consistently reached Q3 in all his five full seasons as a Mercedes driver alongside Hamilton.
Peter Windsor, the 1992 title-winning Williams team manager and F1 commentator, shared his concerns about the changing dynamics at Mercedes. In a video on his YouTube channel, he drew parallels between the Hamilton-Bottas partnership and the current dynamic between Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez at Red Bull.
Windsor highlighted the palpable acrimony between Hamilton and Russell, expressing his apprehension about what might happen if Mercedes were to provide them with a race-winning car in 2024. He noted that Hamilton’s desire to retain Bottas was not solely due to personal affection but because he recognized the importance of maintaining the team’s equilibrium.
He said, “You could tell that there is definitely acrimony between the two now – and that’s not a good thing.” Windsor contemplated the potential challenges if Mercedes were to contend for a championship in 2024, emphasizing the need to manage the Lewis Hamilton-George Russell imbalance effectively.