F1: Verstappen and Hamilton verbally spar
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Jenson Button believes George Russell’s presence as a team-mate will benefit Lewis Hamilton next season. Valtteri Bottas has been Hamilton’s partner at the Silver Arrows since Nico Rosberg retired immediately after claiming the world championship, and the Finn has often been viewed as the Brit’s ideal partner.
Bottas is compliant and allowed Hamilton to take the acclaim and plaudits while also being on the receiving end of brutal team orders without complaints.
However, the Finn has signed with Alfa Romeo to replace Kimi Raikkonen after the legendary driver announced his intention to retire at the end of the current campaign.
With Russell now set to replace Bottas, many fans and critics alike expect the Williams driver to cause problems for Hamilton as the 23-year-old may seize his opportunity to shine.
Former McLaren driver Button disagrees, though.
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Button formed an all-English pairing with Hamilton back at McLaren from 2010 to 2013, but he insists the dynamic of this potential partnership is very different.
He feels the new challenge will further motivate and benefit the 36-year-old.
“For George it puts more pressure on his shoulders because he’s going into a team that has won multiple world championships, every championship in the hybrid era,” Button told Sky Sports.
“For Lewis it puts pressure on his shoulders because he’s never had a young hotshot come into his team that he’s had to beat.
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“It’s a very different dynamic from what we’ve seen with British drivers before as team-mates – it was Lewis and myself – so I’m really excited for that fight if it happens.
“It will be great for Lewis because it’s another challenge for him.”
Sky F1 commentator Martin Brundle believes the move will cause friction within the German manufacturer as they prepare to compete in the new era of regulations ahead of 2022.
Brundle thinks Russell will try and establish himself within the team early which could destabilise the winning culture built by Mercedes with a Hamilton-Bottas partnership.
“Looking forward, two or three years whizzes past in anyone’s life but Formula 1 in particular and it will be Max Verstappen versus Charles Leclerc versus Lando Norris – you have to have one of the young guns established in your team helping to steer in the new direction,” Brundle told Sky F1.
“If you’re going to put a case for George, he will go in there and there would be friction between him and Lewis, there’s no doubt about it, because George would be feisty and he’d want to prove himself, get his elbows out straight away.
“Mercedes need to think about two or three years down the road and these decisions are made very much with that kind of timescale involved.
“They need a driver who will win the race if Lewis doesn’t and they have the fastest car.”
Formula 1 completes its triple-header this weekend at Monza for the Italian Grand Prix.
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