Mercedes accused of showing lack of respect in choosing Lewis Hamilton’s team-mate

George Russell joins Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes

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Lewis Hamilton will have a new Mercedes team-mate next season after George Russell was chosen to replace Valtteri Bottas. Russell excelled during three seasons with Williams and will now get his opportunity to impress on the big stage.

Russell has been on the Mercedes books since 2017 after the Silver Arrows spotted his potential and signed him up as a junior driver.

He has gained essential experience during his stint with Williams and claimed his only podium at last year’s rain-soaked Belgium Grand Prix as he finished second after the contest lasted just one lap.

And he will now be under pressure to grab a podium finish every time he races thanks to the dominance of the Mercedes cars.

Russell’s pairing with Hamilton means the Silver Arrows have brought an end to the relationship between the seven-time champion and Bottas.

The Finnish driver had lined-up alongside Hamilton for five seasons but has now moved to Alfa Romeo ahead of the new season.

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And legendary driver Mika Hakkinen has suggested that Mercedes lacked respect for his compatriot as he wasn’t given the credit he deserved.

“Valtteri is a great team player and driver,” he told Suomi F1.

“He’s going to drive in a great stable. However, he will not fight for similar investments compared to Mercedes time. The resources of the stables are not comparable.

“Now, however, he can prepare in the long run. At Mercedes, with one-year contracts, light was always visible at the end of the tunnel, but there was always a locked door.

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“That uncertainty eats away at self-confidence. He didn’t get the credit he wanted from Mercedes.

“If the carpet is constantly pulled from under your feet, it eats away at your confidence.

“Now Valtteri has the opportunity to drive in the stable in the long run, where he is trusted.”

Bottas finished third in the 2021 Drivers’ Championship after picking-up 226 points over the course of the season.

The 32-year-old won the Turkish Grand Prix in October and also landed 10 other podium finishes.

He was far more consistent than Red Bull’s second driver Sergio Perez, who ended the season fourth in the overall standings after claiming only five podium finishes.

But that wasn’t enough to persuade Mercedes bosses to keep him on for a sixth season.

Bottas will now line-up for Alfa Romeo as part of a new-look partnership alongside Guanyu Zhou after Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Raikkonen both left the team at the end of last year.

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