Damon Hill believes that Lewis Hamilton will view George Russell as a driver who can help him to win an eighth world title by being more competitive than Valtteri Bottas.
Mercedes, according to F1's 1996 title winner, have one of the grid's strongest driver line-ups heading into the new season, as a racer billed by many as a future champion prepares to do battle with the sport's all-time record race winner in equal machinery.
The history books warn the Silver Arrows that such a dynamic so often ends in tears. Hamilton's arrival on the scene at McLaren back in 2007 would ultimately force Fernando Alonso out, while Charles Leclerc's step up from Alfa Romeo to Ferrari meant the end for Sebastian Vettel's time in red only a few years ago.
But Hamilton has what it takes to rise to the challenge, Hill says, and will welcome the prospect of fighting a teammate more able to take points away from Ferrari and Red Bull than his predecessor.
Speaking to the F1 Nation podcast, Hill said: "Lewis seems so comfortable now. I think he won't feel pressure. If George threatens him or is quick, I think he'd be able to cope with that."
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Hill: Unlikely that Russell is going to topple Hamilton
During his final two seasons at Mercedes, Bottas won just three races. While Red Bull's Sergio Perez was on hand to help Max Verstappen by holding Hamilton back during last season's Abu Dhabi showdown, Bottas was fighting with the two AlphaTauri cars down in sixth.
Hamilton will hope, according to Hill, that Russell can be at the front, battling alongside him.
"You've got one of the strongest drivers of all time as your teammate, so that's one down, and the other one is one of the hottest properties, young talents, as well. So yeah, I'd say definitely a very strong line-up there," raved Hill.
The former F1 driver still expects Hamilton to have the edge, though.
"It wouldn't be the end of the world [for Hamilton if Russell is quick]," the former F1 driver said.
"He knows he's got seven world titles in the bank and, over a season, I think it's unlikely that George is going to topple Lewis.
"So I think he's comfortable. In fact, if anything, he's probably feeling better if he's got a fast-charging number two, because anything that comes between him and Red Bull or Ferrari, whoever else it is, the better!"
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