DECEMBER 5, 2023

Hamilton surprised F1 with Russell defeat in 2023

Although close in pace with Lewis Hamilton in 2023, this season was a wake-up call for his much younger teammate George Russell.

Lewis Hamilton, Abu Dhabi GP 2023
© Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

That is the view of Jack Plooij, a commentator for Dutch broadcaster Ziggo Sport.

I really expected Russell to beat Hamilton this year, he admits. Lewis is better than I think.

Indeed, many thought seven time world champion Hamilton had hit his prime prior to his 38th birthday, and would now consistently be beaten by the rising Russell at Mercedes.

But Hamilton actually finished third overall in 2023 - a full five places ahead of 25-year-old Mercedes teammate Russell.

I've never had a season where I've had so many missed opportunities, Russell has now told the Telegraph in a new interview.

"Last year was plain sailing. It felt like a pretty normal season. But this year it's been one thing after another. I need to try to understand why that is.

It's not pressure, he insists. I don't care if I have the greatest driver of all time in the garage next to me, or if I'm a one-man team.

Russell speculates that part of the issue could have been his impatience.

Plus I had a new race engineer this year, he reveals. But I've been on Lewis's level, on average, throughout the year. I want to be ahead of him. But I've also got to be realistic.

On the bright side for Russell is that his qualifying record against Hamilton stands at 11-11 for the season, and pace-wise, we're generally the same as well.

And to be honest, I'd prefer to be sat here without the results, but with the pace. Rather than saying 'Oh, we lucked into a result here or there' when actually I was a tenth or two off the pace, the British driver added.