George Russell's near-win in Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes sparks debate

‘Jackie Stewart was right… the car’s the star, not the driver’: F1 fans claim rookie George Russell’s fantastic Mercedes debut proved Lewis Hamilton is NOT the greatest ever, with only a colossal team error costing stand-in a victory

  • George Russell stepped into Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes and almost claimed victory in Sunday’s Sakhir Grand Prix in Bahrain
  • Hamilton has just claimed a record-equalling seventh Formula One world title in the car some say is unfairly superior to the rest of the field
  • Despite having never driven the Mercedes car before, Williams driver Russell, 22, almost qualified fastest and then came close to a fairytale win
  • It reignited the social media debate over Hamilton’s abilities as a driver weighed up against the superiority of the car he drives
  • F1 legend Sir Jackie Stewart was outspoken on the subject earlier this year
  • A number of current drivers have said Mercedes’ dominance makes sport boring 

George Russell’s agonising near-victory at Formula One’s Sakhir Grand Prix has reignited the debate about the superiority of the Mercedes car in which Lewis Hamilton won a record-equalling seventh world title.

It comes after F1 legend Sir Jackie Stewart and various rival drivers spoke out about how the Mercedes car was so far ahead of the rest of the field that it was diminishing the sport.

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen said recently that ’90 per cent of the field could win in that car’ because it was so ‘dominant’.

George Russell came agonisingly close to winning the Sakhir Grand Prix in a performance that underlined the superiority of the Mercedes car usually driven by Lewis Hamilton

Hamilton has just won a record-equalling seventh world title in the Mercedes car

Dozens of Formula One fans took to Twitter to ask whether Hamilton’s dominance of the sport in recent years is down to his driving ability or the superiority of his Mercedes car

And McLaren driver Lando Norris said last month that Mercedes’ dominance is ‘making Formula One boring’.

Even regular Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas admitted he was made to look like a ‘complete c***’ and ‘a fool’ to those who didn’t follow F1 as Russell outshone him in his first Grand Prix in the Mercedes car.

Russell took the Mercedes seat over the weekend with Hamilton in isolation after contracting coronavirus, and almost pulled off a fairytale win in Sunday night’s race.

The 22-year-old British driver would have won but for a rare pit-lane mix-up by the Mercedes mechanics that demoted him from first to fifth place.

And even then, the Mercedes car had such speed that Russell could easily have won only for a puncture to end his pursuit of eventual winner Sergio Perez.

Despite having never driven the Mercedes car before, British driver Russell was on course to win the Sakhir Grand Prix before a pit lane mix-up and a puncture ruined his chances

F1 legend Sir Jackie Stewart (right) suggested Hamilton’s dominance was down to the car in comments made earlier this year

For many F1 fans on social media, it proved that anyone driving the Mercedes car is able to win a race and, for some, that Hamilton’s achievements are diminished as a result.

Earlier this year, before Hamilton equalled Michael Schumacher’s record haul of seven world titles, Stewart, 81, said it was ‘difficult to justify’ saying he was the greatest driver of all time.

‘Lewis drives extremely well, make no mistake, I’m not in any way diminishing his skills, but it isn’t the same,’ Stewart told the In the Fast Lane podcast.

‘But, frankly, the car and the engine are now so superior that it’s almost unfair on the rest of the field.’

And after rookie Williams driver Russell qualified just 0.026 seconds behind Bottas in Bahrain then finished in the points in ninth place, many fans agreed with him.

One wrote: ‘Can’t help but think Mercedes is questioning Lewis Hamilton’s 50 MILLION dollar a YEAR salary with each lap the young replacement George Russell leads. Also bet Lewis wishes he got his next contract done before this race. Losing negotiating power by the second.’

Another tweeted: ‘Yes it’s certainly made me think that Lewis Hamilton gets paid far too much just to sit in a car and steer it around a race circuit.’

Another F1 fan wrote: ‘I would imagine that @MercedesBenz are thankful that George Russell didn’t win the GP as it would have taken the shine off @LewisHamilton being brilliant, not the car that anyone could win in.’

One other tweet said: ‘After watching a very entertaining GP yesterday and as great fan of Lewis Hamilton it just proves to me unless your a good driver in a great car then your not going to get anywhere. George Russell is a very good prospect but only because in Merc.’

Others quoted Stewart and said: ‘Sir Jackie tells it like it is. Sure Hamilton can drive but his job is very easy driving one of the best cars ever in F1.’

Another said: ‘Hamilton is the GOAT [greatest of all time], better than Schumacher they tell me. George steps into his car and tops the chart in two practice sessions, nearly gets pole and would’ve won this race without the Mercedes pit mess and a puncture.’

Valtteri Bottas believes he was made to look like a ‘complete c***’ at the Sakhir Grand Prix

The Finn struggled to compete with stand-in Mercedes team-mate Russell

Russell shone on his Mercedes debut and comfortably led from the front for most of the race




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