MONZA, Italy — Lewis Hamilton believes the arrival of George Russell at Mercedes will not automatically lead to divisions within the team, especially if it applies the lessons it learned between 2013 and 2016 when he partnered Nico Rosberg.
The relationship between Hamilton and Rosberg turned toxic over the four years they were teammates, to the point that they were no longer on speaking terms at some races. The pair had three high-profile, on-track collisions during their time as teammates — at the 2014 Belgian Grand Prix, the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix, the 2016 Austrian Grand Prix — and their rivalry divided the garage in Rosberg’s championship year in 2016.
Comparisons have been drawn between that period of Mercedes’ history and the arrival of Russell at the team next year, but Hamilton believes conflict is not inevitable.
“History has shown that it can [be like that] and history has shown that it can’t,” Hamilton said. “It’s different in each team and is ultimately how it’s managed.
“It’s quite a strange sport in that it is a team sport but also an individual sport, so you have the two championships and individually you want to finish ahead, but at the same time you’ve got to do the job to get the team ahead.
“It’s a difficult one to navigate through, but I like to think we have experienced it and lived through it, and therefore we should be pretty well set to move forwards.”
Russell said it had been made clear to him by team boss Toto Wolff that divisions would not be tolerated.
“I think Mercedes have had clear experience of a poor dynamic within the team and they’ve made it absolutely clear that they don’t want a repeat and on a personal level as well, I don’t want that either,” he said. “Lewis and I are at very different stages of our careers which I think also helps.
“I have a huge amount of respect for him. I think just being so much younger and looking up to him as a young karting driver changes that dynamic a lot too. I don’t see there being any issues at all.”
Hamilton said he had not raised any concerns about Russell joining and would not expect his new teammate to be treated as a number two driver.
“I don’t know, that’s not really my style,” Hamilton said. “I think ever since I joined this team, I remember joining in 2013 and I remember saying to Ross [Brawn, then team principal] that I just want equal opportunity.
“I think that’s the most rewarding position to be in because if you do the work and you do succeed you know you’ve done the job against whoever it is at their best.
“Winning when someone’s wings are clipped, that’s not something that interests me, so that was never a thought.”
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