Lewis Hamilton's F1 teammates revealed as George Russell signs for Mercedes

Jake Nichol September 7, 2021
Lewis Hamilton’s F1 teammates revealed as George Russell signs for Mercedes
Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

George Russell has finally been announced as a 2022 Mercedes Formula One driver, replacing Valtteri Bottas. Russell will be the sixth teammate Lewis Hamilton has had in F1, but who were they and how did they stack up against the seven-time champion?

Russell joins Mercedes from Williams

After being linked with the seat alongside Hamilton for most of the summer, Mercedes announced on Tuesday morning that it has selected Russell to step up from Williams.

The 23-year-old Briton joins on what the team describes as a “long-term deal,” having spent three years racing for Williams since his F1 debut in 2019.

He has raced once before for Mercedes – in the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix.

Russell stood in for Hamilton after he tested positive for covid-19.

Russell qualified second and looked assured, while leading his first grand prix.

However, a later tyre mix-up at a pitstop and puncture denied him the chance to challenge for the win.

He took his first F1 points with ninth, plus one for fastest lap.

Russell scored his first points for Williams in the chaotic Hungarian GP before the summer break.

At Spa, he stared with a stunning lap in wet qualifying to start in second place for the Belgian GP.

That ‘race’ was abandoned after one lap, meaning Russell scored his first F1 podium with second.

He will be the sixth teammate Hamilton has had in F1, so let’s take a look at the other five.

Lewis Hamilton takes on a world champion teammate

Hamilton’s first F1 teammate was then reigning double world champion Fernando Alonso at McLaren in 2007.

Hamilton made his intentions clear by driving right around the outside of Alonso at the first corner of his first race in Australia.

Relations were cordial to start with, but soon became frayed.

In Canada, Hamilton hung Alonso out to dry at the start – the Spanish driver running onto the grass and down the field.

At Indianapolis, Alonso buzzed the pitwall in protest as Hamilton blocked his overtaking attempt.

F1 2021 | Accolades Trailer

F1 2021 | Accolades Trailer

The world champion teammate fights back

Things came to a head in qualifying for the Hungarian GP.

Alonso held Hamilton in the pit-box after pitting for a change of tyres.

The Brit had failed to let Alonso past in what was known as the ‘fuel burn phase’ of qualifying.

In the pits, despite being given the green light by the team, Alonso stayed where he was.

Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images

When he finally pulled away, he just got around to start a flying lap.

Provisional pole-sitter Hamilton missed the flag, as Alonso delivered a pole lap.

He was given a grid penalty by the stewards for the incident, as Hamilton went on to win his third grand prix.

Relations dropped through the floor for the rest of 2007 – compounded by the Spygate saga enveloping McLaren and Ferrari.

In China, Hamilton had a chance to become the first rookie world champion in wet conditions.

However, rather than doing what was best for Hamilton’s race, McLaren wanted to cover whatever Alonso – still their own driver – did.

The result was that, when Hamilton pitted, he slid wide on heavily worn intermediate tyres into a gravel trap and retired.

Kimi Raikkonen stole in from 17 points behind pre-China to nab the championship from Hamilton after a gearbox problem in the Brazil finale for the McLaren.

Hamilton and Alonso finished level on points – 109, with four wins apiece in 2007.

By dint of more second place finishes (5-4), Hamilton finished runner-up with Alonso third.

The first F1 teammate to beat Lewis Hamilton

After Alonso’s departure back to Renault for 2008, Finn Heikki Kovalainen went the other way.

He spent two seasons at McLaren, winning the 2008 Hungarian GP – his only F1 win.

However, he was not able to consistently match Hamilton, finishing seventh in 2008 as Hamilton took his first world title.

Hamilton was joined by reigning world champion Jenson Button at McLaren for 2010.

Seen by some as a risk for Button given McLaren was seen to be Hamilton’s team, Button out-performed Hamilton over their three year tenure.

Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images

Between 2010-2012, Hamilton scored 10 grand prix wins to Button’s eight, but the latter was more consistent.

Button hauled 672 points over the three year period, to Hamilton’s 657.

In 2011, a year Hamilton faced off-track problems, Button became the first teammate to beat Hamilton over the course of a season.

He matched Hamilton’s haul of three wins and finished runner-up to runaway champion Sebastian Vettel.

Growing dismayed at McLaren’s lack of ability to provide him a car capable of challenging the dominant Vettel, Hamilton looked elsewhere for 2013.

He opted to join Mercedes, a move heavily criticised and doubted at the time…

Lewis Hamilton’s most explosive teammate battle

Things started well for Hamilton and new Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg in 2013 – given they were old friends from their karting days.

At the second race in Malaysia, Mercedes issued team orders to keep Rosberg from overtaking the fuel-saving Hamilton.

The duo worked well to deliver three wins and Mercedes second in the constructors’.

Come 2014, Mercedes was dominant as it became clear from round one that either Rosberg or Hamilton would be world champion.

An all-time great battle in Bahrain got things going, as Rosberg used an engine mode forbidden by the team.

Photo by Steve Etherington/Getty Images

Hamilton did the same thing in Spain, winning both times.

In Monaco, Hamilton declared “we’re not friends” after Rosberg clumsily ran wide in qualifying, securing himself pole position.

Hamilton would ease to the 2014 title, and retain it in ’15 as Rosberg could not match his teammate.

2016: The Mercedes teammates fiercest battle

Things started to go wrong in 2016.

Frustrated by poor early season reliability, Hamilton had to see Rosberg rack up four wins to start the season.

In Spain, the German got the jump on the run to Turn 1, but was in an incorrect engine mode.

Hamilton dived for the inside at Turn 4, as Rosberg covered the inside.

Both were out on the spot.

It was the second time that they had collided as teammates, after Rosberg clipped Hamilton at the 2014 Belgian GP.

Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images

They were at it again on the final lap in Austria, as Rosberg suddenly forgot how to turn right at a right-handed corner.

Hamilton won that race, as Rosberg limped home fourth.

Rosberg one ups Hamilton

An engine failure for Hamilton in Malaysia was critical.

He was cruising to an easy win, before the Mercedes power unit went bang.

Rosberg took third, and followed up with a win in Japan next time out, as Hamilton could only recover to third after a poor start.

That race at Suzuka meant that Rosberg could afford to finish second to Hamilton in the remaining four races of the year, and still be champion.

That’s exactly what he did, taking the title in the Abu Dhabi finale by five points, despite Hamilton ignoring team orders and trying to back Rosberg up into the chasing pack, headed by Vettel.

In the ultimate act of one-upmanship, Rosberg retired from F1 a few days later.

Not only had he matched Button’s 2011 achievement and beaten Hamilton over a season, he became the first to do so to a world championship.

Rosberg was not prepared to put in as much effort again in 2017 as he had to do in ’16.

He took Hamilton’s title, and then made sure his teammate could never take it back from him.

Lewis Hamilton’s “wingman” teammate

Valtteri Bottas is too good to be a number two driver.

A late replacement for Rosberg after his retirement caught Mercedes on the hop, the Finn became the fifth driver to be Hamilton’s teammate in 2017.

The two have delivered 55 victories and four consecutive title doubles in their tenure.

However, Bottas has not engaged in the psychological warfare that Rosberg did, and has not destabilised Hamilton.

Knowing he has a dependable number two behind him, Hamilton has gone from one of the very best F1 drivers to statistically the greatest of all-time.

Team boss Toto Wolff described Bottas as Hamilton’s “wingman,” with Bottas ordered on occasion to either not attack Hamilton (Germany 2018) or move out of his way completely (Russia, 2018).

Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images

In Sunday’s Dutch GP, Bottas was ordered not to set fastest lap, so Hamilton could receive the bonus point for the accolade.

Bottas will depart for Alfa Romeo for 2022, as Russell becomes the sixth driver to be Hamilton’s teammate as F1 heads into a new era defined by new technical regulations.

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Jake can usually be found writing about or watching anything to do with motorsport – from Formula 1 to NASCAR to British Truck Racing. His work as a motorsport journalist has been published by the likes of Autosport, Motorsport.com and Motorsport News – all highly respected names. Away from racing he is a keen amateur astronomer, podcast listener and enjoys long walks in the park with his three dogs.