In their first season together, Russell outperformed Hamilton and took his maiden Formula 1 victory in the 2022 Sao Paulo Grand Prix. However, with the seven-time world champion seemingly performing much stronger this year, Russell has struggled under the increased pressure and only scored a single podium so far.
In the closing laps of the Singapore Grand Prix, the Kings Lynn-born driver was involved in a tactical battle with his team-mate while also closing in on Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris for the race win. Under the pressure of the faster Hamilton behind, Russell slipped up on the final lap and crashed out in dramatic style.
Speaking to the Daily Mail after Russell’s retirement, Ecclestone gave his current verdict on the young Brit days prior to his Suzuka battle with Hamilton.
“I can’t make up my mind about him. I like him. He is super-talented. It is a matter of what he is prepared to do to win.
“He was hoping Carlos (Sainz) would run out of road at the last race (in Singapore). He was pushing very, very hard. I don’t think he thinks his race through, something Lewis does do.”
After costing Mercedes a crucial 15 points in their constructors battle with Ferrari, Russell was once again engaged in a close battle with Hamilton the following round in Japan. The duo experienced an intense duel that lasted for multiple laps throughout the race.
This resulted in the nominally junior driver being ordered by the team to give up his position in favour of Hamilton, eventually finishing two spots behind him. A disappointed Russell felt let down by Mercedes, often venting his frustration over the radio.
With six rounds left in the season, he sits down in eighth in the drivers’ standings and is 75 points behind Hamilton.
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