MAY 26, 2024

Hamilton expects to trail Russell all season

Lewis Hamilton smiled and stayed silent when asked why he's predicting a season of being outperformed by his current Mercedes teammate George Russell.

Lewis Hamilton, Monaco GP 2024
© Mercedes

The seven time world champion was actually in the top-three throughout the three practice sessions in Monaco - only to slump to seventh, behind the sister silver car, in qualifying.

I don't understand, Hamilton said afterwards. "But I already know that automatically I lose two tenths going into qualifying.

I don't anticipate being ahead of George this year in qualifying.

When asked why he's predicting the two-tenth slump will persist all the way until his final race for Mercedes, the 2025 Ferrari driver simply shook his head and smiled.

One theory might be that Hamilton, 39, is now being excluded from certain innovations or systems that could be passed on to his new Maranello based employer.

He revealed in Monaco, for instance, that teammate Russell is the only one with the new front wing this weekend at Monaco.

Team boss Toto Wolff is yet to confirm who will replace Hamilton next year, but the conventional wisdom is that it will be Kimi Antonelli - even if Wolff is keeping the door open for as long as possible for Max Verstappen.

But the Austrian admitted at Monaco: Max is not going to get into a car that is not competitive, and at the moment we are not competitive enough to lure a world champion.

Indeed, even with his father Jos returning to the paddock this week after a long recent absence, Verstappen said any lingering turmoil or conflict at Red Bull will not cause him to jump ship for now.

I would rather not have these stories - these things going on within the team, the triple world champion told the Guardian.

My dad will always stay with me of course, Verstappen added. But they are not in conflict, he insisted, referring to his father Jos and team boss Christian Horner.

People can have different opinions but that's a different story. I am quite a loyal person and it is something that means a lot to me. It would be amazing to finish my career here at Red Bull.