Trying on the statistics from the 2022 season, it’s straightforward to conclude that George Russell had the measure of Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes.
Russell gained a race; Hamilton did not. Russell took a pole place; Hamilton did not. Russell scored 275 factors and completed fourth within the Drivers’ Championship; Hamilton ended up sixth with 240 factors.
Nonetheless, the statistics inform solely half the story, and whereas Russell completed forward of Hamilton a number of instances throughout 2022, the youthful Briton’s benefit got here primarily within the first half of the season. Over the course of the 12 months, the steadiness began to tip in favour of Hamilton.
Hamilton’s tough project
Mercedes started 2022 in a troublesome place with their new W13. Some underwhelming performances in winter testing prompted some to recommend that the workforce had been sandbagging and masking their true tempo, as that they had achieved in years passed by.
Nonetheless, it rapidly turned obvious that this was not the case, and that Mercedes had been genuinely struggling to get the very best of the automotive.
A revolutionary sidepod-less design idea proved eye-catching, however did not ship the anticipated efficiency features, and the W13 struggled badly with porpoising and bouncing within the early a part of the season, leaving Mercedes enjoying catch-up with the highest groups as they sought to know their issues.
For that motive, particularly within the first half of the season, Hamilton was despatched out on monitor with excessive set-ups aimed toward discovering the automotive’s limitations and its excellent working window.
Doing so got here with the calculated danger that the seven-time World Champion can be slower than Russell, whose W13 typically had a extra conservative set-up.
By the eighth spherical of the 2022 season in Baku, Russell had three podium finishes to Hamilton’s one, and led his teammate 99 to 62 within the Drivers’ standings.
With 15 years of F1 expertise below his belt, together with seven World Championships, Hamilton was the logical candidate for this experimental project. If anybody is aware of what makes a profitable automotive, it is him. Russell merely doesn’t have that type of expertise, particularly in F1.
As Mercedes’ revisions and updates to the W13 began to bear fruit, the necessity for Hamilton to tackle experimental updates lessened, and the seven-time World Champion started to claim himself extra, ending forward of Russell in 9 of the 14 races from Canada onwards.
Does this detract from Russell’s efficiency? Definitely not. The youthful Briton acquitted himself extraordinarily nicely in his first season in a aggressive automotive, profitable his debut Grand Prix and proving himself able to competing on the sharp finish of the grid, after having spent three years in an uncompetitive Williams.