Mercedes warned it could get ‘tetchy’ during Lewis Hamilton’s ‘farewell tour’

mercedes warned it could get ‘tetchy’ during lewis hamilton’s ‘farewell tour’

Lewis Hamilton out of his race suit.

Martin Brundle reckons there could be a few “tetchy” moments between Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes this season as the team “prioritises” showing the world George Russell can be the team leader.

Hamilton shocked the F1 paddock, including his team boss Toto Wolff, when he announced at the beginning of February that this season would be his last with Mercedes having decided to move over to Ferrari.

He’ll take Carlos Sainz’s seat leaving both drivers to line up the grid for the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix well aware that this is their last year with their respective teams.

‘It will get tetchy from time to time but I think they are all adults’

And it brings with it interesting dynamics.

While over at Ferrari Sainz is looking through the class ads, at Mercedes they not only have to find a replacement for Hamilton, they also have to figure out how they’re going to tackle this season.

According to Brundle, while the Brackley squad needs to ensure sponsors and fans have faith that Russell can lead them into the post-Hamilton era, they need to balance that with Hamilton’s aspirations given he is a six-time Mercedes World Champion.

Brundle believes there could be a few “tetchy” moments in the mix but he’s backed Mercedes and the drivers to be mature about it.

“The team will want to show their sponsors and fans that George is very capable of leading that team into the future. So that’s where their priorities will be,” Brundle told Sky Sports on the eve of the Bahrain Grand Pix.

“I see Lewis and Mercedes having a bit of a farewell tour. It will get tetchy from time to time but I think they are all adults; I don’t see a lot of acrimony there.

“But George will come out of Lewis’ shadow and I think it will do him the world of good, to be honest.”

As for Hamilton’s replacement, while not naming names, he spoke of the team bringing in a “young gun” with Mercedes protégé Andrea Kimi Antonelli a firm favourite amongst F1 pundits to take the seat.

“I think the whole situation will energise Mercedes as well because they can get a young gun in and build for the future. That’s what I presume they’ll do for 2025, but who knows,” he added.

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‘A lot of threat and a lot of opportunity going forward’

But Russell stepping up into a team leader role isn’t the only big storyline for the 2024 season.

With 12 drivers out of contract, and even a few who have already signed on the dotted line for 2025, keen on Hamilton’s seat, the Briton says there’s both “threat” and “opportunity” at stake.

“Those drivers who don’t have a fixed contract for 2025 will realise there is a lot of threat and a lot of opportunity going forward,” said the former F1 driver. “There really is a story in every seat on the grid.”

From Sergio Perez’s future at Red Bull to the queue of candidates wanting to replace him, from Sainz’s desire to prove Ferrari wrong to Fernando Alonso chasing that illusive win number 33, even the Williams team-mates have stories waiting to be written.

“Let’s hope Sergio Perez regains his confidence and form like we saw from him in the early part of last year in Jeddah and Baku when he got ahead of Max Verstappen and kept it there,” Brundle continued.

“Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri at McLaren, with Oscar now in his second year of F1, is a wonderful combination and I think they’ll drive each other on.

“I’m looking forward to George Russell coming out of Lewis Hamilton’s shadow a little bit. I think he has got all the ingredients to step up and lead that team as the season progresses.

“Carlos Sainz, I think will be a free spirit in his final year at Ferrari.

“Has Daniel Ricciardo got his mojo, that he often refers to, back and how good is that RB car going to be? Has Fernando Alonso in his 40s still got the motivation?

“If Williams don’t take a massive step forward, I would say that Alex Albon will be thinking ‘I’ve got to get in a works team’ whatever his contractual situation is. Logan Sargeant is probably fighting for a seat.

“There will be a story in all 20 cars.”

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