Lewis Hamilton claims that he and teammate George Russell are equals at Mercedes and that he is not the leading driver, despite appearances to the contrary.
Hamilton’s extraordinary track record as a seven-time Formula One world champion and 103-time Grand Prix winner obviously confers a special position on the Briton, a reputation bolstered by the fact that his impressive credentials in F1 were earned primarily with Mercedes.
Despite this, the 37-year-old denies that he is the team’s default lead driver or that he commands a better status at Brackley than the younger and less experienced Russell.
“I wouldn’t say I’m the leader,” Hamilton interjected last weekend in Spain, when Russell was asked during a Mercedes media conference what qualities he saw in his teammate “as a leader”.
“George and I work equally hard together, I would say, to help drive the team and row just as hard as everyone else in the team.”
“But through adversity and challenging times you always learn more about yourself, how you deal with things, how you reflect on things, how you are able to turn negatives into positives.”
“I wouldn’t say I’ve learned particularly much more, so I will say past experiences have helped during this phase and I would say to just reassuring the strength I know I have mentally.”
“Also, just reassuring us I still love my job, I still love the challenge even if it’s not fighting for wins.”
“I’m still enjoying this battle we are having internally in terms of trying to, with the car I mean, trying to chase down these other guys.”
Russell responded to the question by saying that since joining the championship-winning Mercedes squad, Hamilton and the entire team have been a source of inspiration and motivation for him.
“I think that’s been one of the big things I’ve seen with joining Mercedes, seeing how Lewis does things, how Toto [Wolff] does things, the culture that’s ingrained within everyone,” responded the 24-year-old said.
“It’s sort of relentless. They are always striving for more, never being complacent.
“And seeing how everyone’s pulling together at the moment to try and resolve these issues we are facing, it inspires and it’s also motivating for myself because you learn how the best in the business do it and you need to continuously push yourself for more.
“So I think I’m in a really privileged position to be team-mates with Lewis and be part of Mercedes.”