Lewis Hamilton’s rookie team-mates analysed as George Russell faces biggest test yet
George Russell joins Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes
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Lewis Hamilton is set to be joined at Mercedes by George Russell for the 2022 season, with the 23-year-old Brit poised to make an eagerly anticipated step up from Williams. The youngster himself has stressed the importance of cooperation this year as constructors attempt to navigate new regulations, but many are still keen to see how Russell will stack up against the seven-time world champion. With this in mind, Express Sport looks back at how all five of Hamilton’s former team-mates fared in their first year of partnership.
Fernando Alonso (2007-2008)
Hamilton was a sensation in his rookie year, being brought in alongside reigning double world champion Alonso to complete McLaren’s brand new driver line-up.
The Stevenage-born star put up quite a fight, finishing level on points with the Spaniard and just one behind title-winner Kimi Raikkonen.
There may have been a tinge of disappointment, however, having held the lead over both Alonso and Raikkonen going into the season finale, but Hamilton could only muster a seventh-place finish in Brazil.
Although both drivers came within touching distance of the title, their year-long partnership was not without tension, particularly in Hungary when Alonso received a five-place grid penalty for preventing Hamilton from leaving the pits in time to complete his final qualifying lap. The Spaniard’s contract was terminated by mutual consent in November.
Heikki Kovalainen (2008-2010)
With Alonso returning to Renault, the Finn came in with much less pedigree, and ultimately proved much less of a threat.
As Hamilton stormed to his first world title thanks to a dramatic season finale in Brazil which saw him pass Timo Glock after a strategic mishap, Kovalainen finished way down the Drivers’ Standings in seventh.
When looking back on the season, the Brit achieved five victories in 2008 to Kovalainen’s single triumph in Hungary, which eventually proved to be the only win of his career.
Nevertheless, it was enough for the former Renault driver to maintain his spot for the following season.
Jenson Button (2010-2013)
Having arrived at McLaren off the back of a sensational world-title-winning year with Brawn, Button got off to a flyer, tasting victory twice before Hamilton got off the mark himself.
As it turned out, however, they were the only two wins Button would achieve all season, with Hamilton eventually clawing his way back to three, finishing 26 points ahead of his team-mate in the process.
Although the pair finished in fourth and fifth in the individual standings, title-winner Sebastian Vettel was by no means out of sight, and as a partnership they achieved McLaren’s first one-two in three years at the Chinese Grand Prix before going on to repeat the feat in Turkey.
Button would outscore Hamilton the following year, but during a period of Red Bull dominance, neither driver would claim the title during their three-year stint.
Nico Rosberg (2013-2017)
Having been persuaded by F1 legend Niki Lauda to make the switch from McLaren to Mercedes, Hamilton and Rosberg formed one of the sport’s great rivalries.
It did not take long for tensions to heat up, with Hamilton claiming his first podium for the Silver Arrows in Malaysia, although Rosberg was prevented from fighting for the spot by team orders.
While the Brit pipped his team-mate by 18 points, Rosberg out-qualified Hamilton on eight occasions and finished the season with a favourable record of two victories to one.
In 2013, the duo finished well behind runaway leader Sebastian Vettel, but they would go on to dominate in the following three years with Hamilton winning two world titles to Rosberg’s one.
Valtteri Bottas (2017-2021)
Hamilton’s second Finnish team-mate got off to an impressive start in 2017, achieving a podium first time out at the Australian Grand Prix.
Bottas was rarely too far behind Hamilton during the course of the year, finishing the season with a 58-point gap which would prove to be their closest margin in any of their five seasons of partnership.
The Brit eventually won the title, followed by Vettel before Bottas came in third, and although the points deficit was relatively small, Hamilton still outdid his team-mate at a rate of nine wins to three.
With the 32-year-old now off to Alfa Romeo, it is over to Russell as the world watches on to see how he will fare compared to the five competitors that have gone before him.
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