Mercedes may give George Russell sneaky advantage over Lewis Hamilton for 2022

Lewis Hamilton's 'natural ability is fantastic' says Button

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Mercedes may be handing an advantage to George Russell when he joins the team in 2022. The Brit signed a deal with the Silver Arrows last month to drive for them next season, alongside seven-time F1 champion Lewis Hamilton.

Now it has been reported that Toto Wolff’s men will “slowly but surely” begin working more with Russell this year during the ongoing season, but are aware he has to prioritise finishing strong with Williams.

Wolff said: “Over the autumn we’re going to slowly but surely collaborate more without ever jeopardising or interfering into the current championship,” said Wolff. “But we haven’t started yet.”

Wolff added: “We need to respect that George is still a Williams driver and needs to do the utmost for Williams to climb up the ranks in the Constructors’ Championship and he’s done a good job so far.

“And we have Valtteri and Lewis, they are our drivers.”

The fact that Russell has already been managed by Mercedes for many years allows the German manufacturer’s team to start working with him from the latter stages of the 2021 season, without having to wait until the start of the new campaign.

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On the Williams side, CEO Jost Capito explained at the Turkish Grand Prix that the working relationship between the team and Russell had not changed at all since the announcement of his departure.

“There is not yet a great involvement from the pilots for next year’s development, so it’s not a question we really ask ourselves,” he said.

“It’s not on the agenda for us, he does his job, he prepares his races, he prepares the rest of the season.”

When asked if Russell still returns to the factory from time to time and if he is allowed to use the Williams simulator, Capito replied: “Yes of course nothing has changed after the decision that he would join Mercedes next year.”

Russell currently has 16 points with Williams this season, including a career-high finish of P2 in the rain-affected Belgian Grand Prix.

The young driver already has experience driving with his new team, as recently as this season when he drove in the team’s post-Hungarian Grand Prix Pirelli tyre test.

He also represented Mercedes at the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix in place of Hamilton who had tested positive for coronavirus.

During an interview with Gazzetta dello Sport, Russell was asked what three years with Williams have left him with, to which he replied: “A great mental shape.

“It’s easy to manage victories, you celebrate them. Dealing with hard moments or mistakes is the real challenge. They have tempered me, I’m more mature as a person and as a driver.

“In 2019, the team was in a difficult moment, always last. The hard work in the factory and on the track, however, paid off and we are proud of that. I will leave satisfied.”

Russell will be back in action with Williams this weekend as the F1 circuit heads to Austin, Texas for the United States Grand Prix.

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