Mercedes newcomer George Russell will challenge and ‘attack’ seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton in 2022, according to ex-Formula 1 racer Perry McCarthy. The upcoming 2022 F1 season will be the biggest of Russell’s career after he swapped Williams for Mercedes. Russell has replaced Alfa Romeo-bound Valtteri Bottas after impressing for three seasons with Williams.
He attracted attention with some stunning performances despite the uncompetitive machinery he piloted. Russell out-qualified team-mates Nicholas Latifi and Robert Kubica 57 times across 59 race weekends at the famous British outfit. The 23-year-old secured a stunning podium at the Belgian Grand Prix after qualifying in P2 following a super session, with only Red Bull’s Max Verstappen outclassing the Brit.
The new season will not be the first time Russell has set foot in a Mercedes. When Hamilton was ruled out of the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix, Russell was handed the opportunity to prove himself as he stepped up to Mercedes for a one-off stand-in appearance. Bottas acted as support for Hamilton as he pursued an eighth title, and speculation is mounting whether Russell will do the same role.
If Hamilton returns to Formula 1, McCarthy believes Russell can compete with the 37-year-old this upcoming season. “I think he’s going to be tapping Lewis on the shoulder, I really do,” McCarthy told Formula1News.co.uk “And the other thing is, is that, you know, if Lewis has developed any chinks in his armour, because he does feel a little bit low, then George will be prying those open, you know, he’s going to be on the attack.”
It will undoubtedly be an enormous challenge for the young Brit,“So you know, racing drivers are selfish. “You’re in this, there is an enjoyment and there is that urge to compete, but you’re looking at brand, you’re looking at reputation, you’re looking at delivering, you’re looking at winning, and your worst enemy is actually your team-mate all the way through.
“Because they’re perceived to have the same tyres, the same car, the same engine, the same opportunities. but McCarthy is confident Russell can make a real impact. “Your absolute best scenario, as a racing driver, is to join a team, where you’ve got an absolutely brilliant, established star,” the 60-year-old explained. “And then your job is to beat him, because suddenly,
if you’ve just jumped in, and you’re beating the guy that holds pretty much every record going, then you’re looked at as being brilliant. “And if your team-mate is dusting you every week, you’re not looking that great. If you come in and dust your team-mate, especially is he’s a brilliant star, then your reputation is great. “So that clearly is exactly what George is after.”
The 23-race 2022 campaign begins on 18-20 March, with winter testing for the all-new generation of cars underway from 23 February.