Hamilton has 'nothing to prove', touts 'respect' with 'the future' Russell

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Lewis Hamilton doesn't have anything to prove, expects "respect" in a partnership with George Russell at Mercedes.

It is widely anticipated that the current Williams driver will be confirmed as the seven-time world champion's new teammate for 2022 before next weekend's Italian Grand Prix at Monza.

Indeed, on Thursday, Russell himself revealed he had been informed before Spa where he'll be driving next season but was still waiting for the official announcement.

Another strong indicator of his expected move was the praise Hamilton heaped on the 23-year-old, as he considered how their relationship would be as teammates.

"I think it’d be quite good, I honestly think it’d be good," he said.

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"George is an incredibly talented driver, clearly. I would say probably the only highlight from last week [at Spa] was his qualifying lap. It was amazing.

"He’s humble. He’s got a great approach. Being British I imagine probably helps in terms of communication!"

Throughout the year, Hamilton has continued to back his current teammate Valtteri Bottas, calling for his retention. But even he concedes it is likely time for Mercedes to look forward.

"At the moment I have to be super supportive of the teammate that I have, so that’s why I’m always supportive of Valtteri because we have a job to do right now and neither of us can win the team championship alone, we have to do it collectively," he explained.

"But he [Russell] is the future, he’s one of the members of the future of the sport. He’s already shown incredible driving so far. I’m sure it’s going to continue to grow.

"Where better to do it than a great team like this [at Mercedes] – or whatever team he goes to."

It has been suggested that Russell's arrival could lead to tension with Hamilton, in the same way Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel clashed at Ferrari.

But Lewis is confident that won't be the case.

"I don’t really feel like I have anything to prove,” said Hamilton. "If it does turn out that I’ve got a new teammate, I’m in a different place in my life.

"I’m excited to see the youngsters coming through. It’s not that I want to lose to a youngster naturally but I’m excited to see the progression because I am a fan of the sport.

"You’ve heard me early on in the year talk about Lando [Norris], it’s encouraging to see these youngsters coming through.

"They are fierce. I see a lot of myself in the younger generation, and I think they are what the sport’s gonna be reliant on moving forward.

"There’ll be things that we learn from one another. It’s important that naturally the respect is always there and communication will be at the core of that," he added.

"We’ve got an amazing setting at our team in terms of morale, in terms of processes and how the team put their arms around the two drivers.

"That’s why we have harmony in our team, and I think we’re so much better prepared than we were in previous years, so it doesn’t really worry me."

Hamilton also noted how Russell's arrival would be different to most other drivers moves.

"George has already been on the circuit with us. He’s already done a race with the team, he’s already been in the background while Valtteri and I’ve been working in the past so I think he knows the environment well," he said,

"But my focus right now is me and Valtteri have a job to do. And I’m proud to work alongside Valtteri.

"He is a decent human being and I think that’s at the core of why I have the respect I have with him, and on top of that he’s a fierce competitor. He never gives up, he just keeps pushing.

"He’s helped me deliver these championships with the team. I couldn’t have done it without him."