Russell originally joined the Mercedes young driver programme in 2017 and made his first foray into F1 with Williams two years later. The 24-year-old spent three seasons with Williams and illustrated his prodigious talents on a string of occasions.
And last year, Mercedes announced the star would make the step up to the Silver Arrows to replace Bottas. Russell has been tipped to be an F1 title winner in the future and F1 fans are holding their breath to see how he and Hamilton work together as a team.
But Hill believes Russell represents an upgrade to Bottas and says the youngster can help Hamilton get the edge over his rivals. “Lewis seems so comfortable now,” Hill revealed. “I think he won’t feel pressure. If George threatens him or is quick, I think he’d be able to cope with that.
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“You’ve got one of the strongest drivers of all time as your team-mate – so that’s one down. And the other one is one of the hottest properties, young talents, as well. So yeah, I’d say definitely a very strong line-up there.
“It wouldn’t be the end of the world [for Hamilton if Russell is quick]. So I think he’s comfortable. In fact, if anything, he’s probably feeling better if he’s got a fast-charging number two because anything that comes between him and Red Bull or Ferrari – whoever else it is – the better.”
Bottas only won three races in his final two seasons with the Silver Arrows and Russell could cause more of a stir at the front of the grid than the Finn managed to do during his time with the Silver Arrows. But Hill doesn’t think Hamilton should be concerned about the prospect of being overthrown by his new team-mate this season. “He knows he’s got seven world titles in the bank and, over a season, I think it’s unlikely that George is going to topple Lewis,” Hill added.
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Mercedes are expected to compete for another Constructors’ Championship this year after winning the last eight titles. But Russell has already cast doubts over his team’s chances of success following pre-season testing in Bahrain last week.
“We’re trying to get every last bit of performance out of it [the car] and just trying to test those limits – but it’s definitely bouncing around from within,” Russell admitted. “It’s not the comfiest in all honesty. I don’t really care about comfort if the performance is there, but at the moment the performance isn’t there.”