Mercedes may not be the almighty force it was for the most part of the past decade but there is harmony between Lewis Hamilton and George Russell are gelling well, with Toto Wolff confident he has the best driver pairing in Formula 1 until at least the end of 2023.
Beyond that? Who knows? The World Champion team are not concerned about that just yet.
Speaking to F1.com, Mercedes team boss Wolff said: “We are in a happy place with Lewis and there is no doubt that we are embarking the season and the next one in a good place. But it’s too early to discuss 2024. But having said that, I couldn’t wish for a better driver pairing.”
He is not wrong there, 24-year-old George Russell has delivered beyond expectations by humbling 37-year-old Hamilton thus far in their first season together and adapted to the new era F1 cars better. However, it is fair to say the seven-time F1 World Champion enjoyed something of a renaissance in Canada last time out.
And will be fired up for his home British Grand Prix next weekend and may well have found that extra notch to match his teammate. Because the duo are not up front battling for the top step of the podium, instead scrapping for points, the driver dynamic between the pair has been exemplary.
Wolff revealed that Hamilton “was always very positive in his mindset.”
And added: “How the two work together is really astonishing; in the briefings they keep asking each other questions. I guess it’s going to be different if you race at the very front.
“It’s super how the two have really helped to progress and I’m happy for Lewis because he had the bad luck on his side, he could have been on the podium a few times if the Safety Car hadn’t had worked against him,” ventured Wolff.
Heading to Silverstone, Mercedes are nine-time winners of the British Grand Prix, eight times with Hamilton winning in front of his appreciative fans.
Toto: Heading to the British Grand Prix we should manage our own expectations
This season it is a different story, Wolff is wary heading to the venue a stone’s throw from the team’s Brixworth and Brackley HQs: “Silverstone was good to us in the past and the circuit is smoother than the last three ones, but it’s not Barcelona.
“So now we should manage our own expectations and really grind away, look at the data and come up with some sensible solutions, not just for Silverstone but going forward,” added the Mercedes team boss.
There has been much speculation regarding Hamilton’s future, after Baku, he appeared seriously injured due to porpoising which hampered Mercedes far more than their rivals, their drivers suffering a pounding. Nyck de Vries was allegedly put on high alert to replace Hamilton in Montreal.
However, Hamilton emerged in Canada healed and rejuvenated to deliver one of his better performances, suggesting he won’t walk away from the sport spontaneous Niki Lauda-style but rather looks set to grind it out, no matter the damage to his legacy as he toils in the midfield and is shown up by a driver a dozen years younger.
Nevertheless, this means, of course, Hamilton will bank an estimated $80-million over the next two years from Mercedes and for him, that’s a good enough reason to hang in there, no matter what they conjure for him to drive.
However, where Lewis is right now in life (38 next year) and career (record holder in just about everything F1-related) is uncharted territory; who knows if he wakes up one day and says to himself: “Enough!”
Not even he knows if that will or won’t happen. Watch this space!