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George Russell

Hamilton's departure could 'ignite new Mercedes spark' - Russell

George Russell believes Lewis Hamilton's impending departure from Mercedes could propel the team forwards.

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George Russell believes Lewis Hamilton's departure will be a "fresh start" that "ignites a new spark" for Mercedes.

Seven-time champion Hamilton stunned F1 in February with the announcement that he had activated a break clause in his contract and would join Ferrari for the 2025 season, bringing down the curtain on the most successful driver-team pairing of all-time. 

Hamilton has won 82 of his 103 grands prix for Mercedes, and picked up six of his world titles with the Brackley team, but has not won since the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Mercedes has struggled in the ground-effects era, with Russell joining as Hamilton's team-mate ahead of the first season in 2022, and took the team's only victory in the era in Sao Paulo in 2022.

In 2024, Russell enjoys a 7-1 advantage over Hamilton in qualifying, although the actual time delta difference is minuscule, is 5-2 up in races where both have been classified and has 54 points to 42. 

Ear-marked as Hamilton's long-time successor as team leader, the Briton feels the impending departure is part of the need to "evolve."

"My job is to beat my team-mate and get the most out of the car," Russell told the Daily Mail. 

"It is a fresh start for the team, so many people here have shared success with Lewis, but change often ignites a new spark for everyone.

"It does that for Lewis, and it sparks that for us here next year. You have to adapt and evolve, and we are in that process of building from the ground up.

"It is good that Lewis is leaving us now — rather in 2021, when it would have been difficult for the whole team."

Technical leadership

In mid-2023 it was announced that James Allison would be retuning to the technical director role he vacated ahead of the '22 season, in a job-swap with Mike Elliott, who became chief technical officer.

The team ditched the flawed zero sidepod design at the 2023 Monaco Grand Prix, although more fundamental architecture changes could not be done to the W14 in-season, meaning the '24 W15 would represent the first chance the team had to make those further changes - including moving the cockpit position backwards as Hamilton had requested.

However, the W15 has not proved to be as immediately competitive as hoped with it yet to record a podium one-third of the way through the season, although Mercedes is making good steps forward, including with a brand-new front-wing delivered for Monaco. 

Detailing how Mercedes was working technically, Russell explained how the team had "overshot" with the current car.

"When you look at the data and you correlate it with how it feels, you understand why last year wasn’t good and nor was the year before," he explained.

"It was all at the rear and is now all at the front. The problem is that the changes we made were too much. 

"It was in the right direction, but we carried on going and overshot. It shows there is always a compromise.

"We have a great team and have other great people joining, we have James [Allison, technical director] back at the helm and he’s letting nothing slide. 

"There’s clear leadership, and I’m quite a rational person, [and] morale does get knocked when you realise it is going to be a tough season."

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RESULTS 2024 F1 Spanish Grand Prix - Qualifying