August 13, 2022

Ahead of an exceptional weekend at Silverstone, Mark Hughes analyzes the superb seasons of George Russell and Lando Norris and explains why they are ready to take on the role of Lewis Hamilton; Watch the British GP live on Sky Sports F1, with Sunday’s race at 3pm

Last update: 29/06/22 11:25


It’s entirely possible – if not likely – that Lewis Hamilton’s incredible British Grand Prix winning streak won’t be extended on Sunday, given his Mercedes W13’s less than stellar form to date.

This difficulty so late in his career led to inevitable questions about how long Hamilton might want to continue.

Still chasing that record eighth world title, he is under contract with Mercedes until the end of next year. In Montreal, he seemed to accept that the title would not go to him this year.

“I think it’s the car of the year,” he said. “We just have to endure the situation and work hard to build a better car for next year.”

So if the eighth title arrives in 2023, does it bow out, mission accomplished? Does he keep looking for the number nine, even as the years go by? Or if additional championships prove elusive, how long does he keep trying?

Relive Lewis Hamilton's huge crash with title rival Max Verstappen at last year's British Grand Prix.

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Relive Lewis Hamilton’s huge crash with title rival Max Verstappen at last year’s British Grand Prix.

Relive Lewis Hamilton’s huge crash with title rival Max Verstappen at last year’s British Grand Prix.

So many questions that have been swirling around him for a long time and for which only he can have the answers – and maybe not even him. But the day he finally resigns, he will leave a void behind him.

But the sport will continue, with new heroes trained, maybe even – one day – new records set. With much of the fanbase heavily based on nationality, Britain is well served with two potential world-class young performers in George Russell and Lando Norris.

Russell proves himself alongside Hamilton

Russell’s value is measured directly this year against teammate Hamilton of course, and in that comparison he’s looking remarkably good so far. In the dry qualifying sessions (i.e. without Imola and Canada), he leads 4-3, with an average advantage of 0.136s.

George Russell somehow held off Max Verstappen in a battle for second place at the Spanish Grand Prix.

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George Russell somehow held off Max Verstappen in a battle for second place at the Spanish Grand Prix.

George Russell somehow held off Max Verstappen in a battle for second place at the Spanish Grand Prix.

The specs of the cars weren’t always the same, as the team experimented a lot, trying to better understand the Mercedes W13’s issues. But nonetheless, Russell has been hugely impressive in the way he has adapted and is clearly genuinely competitive with Hamilton on a more consistent basis than was the case with his predecessor Valtteri Bottas.

This after some of his extraordinary qualifying achievements in the Williams last year – notably the front row at Spa and the second row at Sochi – mark him out as something quite special, with immense potential. He has, after all, only entered a grand prix once with a fully competitive car (Sakhir 2020) and without a flat tire he would have won it.

George Russell was happy with the pace of his Mercedes, but says they have yet to fully resolve their porpoising issues.

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George Russell was happy with the pace of his Mercedes, but says they have yet to fully resolve their porpoising issues.

George Russell was happy with the pace of his Mercedes, but says they have yet to fully resolve their porpoising issues.

Norris continues to shine despite tough McLaren car

Like Russell, Norris’ car is less competitive this year than expected.

The McLaren MCL36 just isn’t as strong against the competition as last year’s car which scored a 1-2 at the Italian Grand Prix and took Norris to pole position in Sochi and to be one ace away from winning the race. But although his opportunities to repeat such form were limited this year, he continued to shadow team-mate Daniel Ricciardo at the point of crisis.

Get on board with Lando Norris as Sky F1's Karun Chandhok analyzes the McLaren driver's lap during Friday's practice in Baku.

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Get on board with Lando Norris as Sky F1’s Karun Chandhok analyzes the McLaren driver’s lap during Friday’s practice in Baku.

Get on board with Lando Norris as Sky F1’s Karun Chandhok analyzes the McLaren driver’s lap during Friday’s practice in Baku.

Norris’ ability to conjure speed on corner entry left Ricciardo – a driver who closely rivaled Max Verstappen at Red Bull – reeling. Partly that has to do with Ricciardo’s struggles to adapt to the traits of the McLaren, but only an impressive level of performance from Norris revealed that. Evidence suggests that Norris, like Russell, is poised to win races and challenge for titles as soon as he is in a competition car.

Whether either will ever come close to the scale of Hamilton’s achievements is quite another matter, but imagining the future days of the post-race victory celebration at Silverstone, with hundreds of thousands of cheers for the local hero, it’s easy enough to imagine Russell or Norris at the center of it all.

F1 2022 heads to Silverstone this weekend for motorsport’s big event of the summer. Join Sky Sports F1 for extensive coverage throughout the British GP weekend – racing starts at 2pm on Sunday July 3.