George Russell and Lewis Hamilton theory blasted by F1 legend who slams ‘load of rubbish’

F1 legend Johnny Herbert has claimed rumours of Mercedes giving George Russell preferential treatment over Lewis Hamilton are “a load of rubbish.”

With Hamilton set to depart for Ferrari at the end of this season, Russell will soon become the senior star at Brackley.

However, an unsubstantiated email purportedly sent by a member of Mercedes’ staff reportedly suggested the manufacturer is already “sabotaging” Hamilton in the run-up to his exit.

The seven-time world champion has aired his frustrations with the lack of Mercedes success in recent years and conceded in May that he’d “had enough” of toiling away further down the grid.

That being said, former Lotus and Sauber driver Herbert doesn’t buy into the speculation suggesting the Silver Arrows are already overlooking the star.

“It’s all a load of rubbish,” he said while speaking to Lord Ping.

“The only thing that happens within a team when a driver says he is leaving is that they will focus on the other driver as he is the future. They won’t show him the data of the new pieces that are coming along because they wouldn’t want him to take that information with him and maybe talk about it to Ferrari.

“That is normal for Lewis not to be in the know about everything. As far as doctoring his car so his performances are impacted, that is rubbish. That interferes with the constructors’ championship, the number of points a team wins and the money that they earn from that.

“George is maturing and it’s the perfect time for him. Now Lewis is leaving, Mercedes is effectively George’s team. He has all the ingredients to take it further.”

Hamilton, 39, has finished ahead of Russell in just two of nine races thus far in 2024. Just 14 points separate the pair in the standings, with the former occupying eighth and Russell sat seventh just ahead of him.

Russell, 26, came through Mercedes’ junior driver programme and impressed with Williams before making the step up to the Silver Arrows in 2022. However, his arrival has coincided with the team’s product taking a backseat in the F1 hierarchy, leaving Red Bull to take over as the sport’s dominant force.

Herbert – who spent 12 seasons in F1 and finished the 1995 season in fourth while at Benetton – dismissed the notion that Mercedes had given up on Hamilton ahead of time. However, he did concede the 12-year Mercedes veteran may have “checked out” of his responsibilities to some degree.

“He has been there for so long and found it hard over the past two years that a reboot and a refresh at Ferrari was his decision,” he added. “Maybe we will see more of the old Lewis when he goes to Ferrari.”

Those at Maranello will certainly hope that’s the case as Hamilton seeks to finally overtake Michael Schumacher as F1’s most successful champion of all time. He’ll replace Carlos Sainz ahead of the 2025 season as the Prancing Horse looks to win its first drivers’ title since 2007.



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