Russell ready to reign: The future of Mercedes post-Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton is gearing up for what appears to be a rather uncomfortable “conversation” with Toto Wolff, his current overseer in the Formula 1 realm. As Hamilton prepares to part ways with Mercedes by year’s end, his sights are firmly set on the 2025 season with Ferrari, a move that sparks a blend of anticipation and strategic challenges. “At some stage I will have to start the conversation with Toto,” Hamilton disclosed during an event at Suzuka, acknowledging the novelty of his current situation. “I’ve never been in this position at this time of the year. So I’m not quite sure how to navigate it but right now I want to finish on a high here so all my energy is going into this. Of course there’s excitement for the future.”

Amidst speculation, there’s a growing sense that Hamilton’s drive may be waning, attributed to Mercedes’ failure to provide a competitive car for the third year running. “I’m a competitor first and foremost so I want to win,” he asserted. “Thinking about next year is not going to help me do that.”

In the meantime, George Russell is stepping into the limelight at Mercedes with a more optimistic outlook. “I think we all get our chance at some point,” he shared with AFP, hinting at a potential turnaround in 2026 with new regulations and Mercedes’ collaboration with Ford. “I am 100 percent convinced that the new regulations in 2026 will allow Mercedes to return to the top because the change will be more fundamental than 2022 and there will be a lot of performance to be had with the new engine,” Russell confidently stated. “With Mercedes’ experience, I can’t wait for 2026.”

Russell also perceives Hamilton’s departure as a potential boon. “Change is sometimes good,” he remarked, celebrating Hamilton’s legacy and the fresh start his exit might herald for both parties. “He’s done so many great things; he’s been here for so long and we’re kind of stuck at the moment. So I think this change is positive for him and positive for Mercedes because it gives us the possibility of starting from a clean sheet.”

The paddock is rife with rumors, notably involving Max Verstappen’s possible early switch to Mercedes, despite his commitment to Red Bull until 2026. Fernando Alonso quipped about these speculations, rating Verstappen’s chance of leaving Red Bull for 2025 as “zero.” Verstappen, amused, referenced Alonso’s comments about his own future, stating, “It all depends on if I want to also drive next year or not, you know. But from my side, no, I’m very happy where I am. And, yeah, we want to keep it that way.”

However, it’s not just drivers in the rumor mill; Adrian Newey, Red Bull’s chief designer, is linked with a move to Aston Martin, which will take over Red Bull’s Honda engines from 2026. Verstappen hopes for continuity but acknowledges the uncertainties. “I hope we can stay together,” he noted. “But if someone wants to leave, you cannot always stop that. I haven’t talked to him about it and I don’t know what’s going on either – and I don’t care. I don’t feel like reading all about it. It is other people’s job to make the car fast, but I would like for him to stay obviously.”

GMM

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