By Carol M. Creasey
George Russell is 23 years old, and his dream for a long time has been to join Mercedes. He has been driving for Williams, but just before the end of last season, it was announced that he would partner Lewis Hamilton this year.
There’s no doubt that the young Briton relished the opportunity to learn from, and test himself against the most successful driver in Formula 1 history. Lewis himself welcomed George to the team on social media, but nobody could have known at that time how the 2021 season would end up.
As everybody now knows, the title was decided by race director Michael Masi, who freestyled the rules regarding the Safety Car, which allowed Max Verstappen to overtake Lewis and win the race and the 2021 championship.
As a result, after congratulating Max and shaking hands with Red Bull team boss Christian Horner, Lewis tactfully removed himself from all social media, and took his well-earned private time. Toto Wolff later expressed how disappointed they both were with the FIA, and said he ‘hopes’ Lewis would return.
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This has given the Press and the pundits free reign to speculate about his future, but unfortunately it has also brought out the keyboard warriors who have taken every opportunity to accuse him of sulking and being a bad loser. However, nothing could be further from the truth.
Lewis has enjoyed having more wins and pole position than any other driver in F1 history, but he also knows that he won’t be racing forever, and he has other goals and ambitions to achieve in his life. Not only is he not afraid of losing, but he takes a keen interest in the younger drivers, and often offers them support, especially when they are down. Last year when he was trying to get past Lando Norris, he commented to his team what a great driver Lando was.
George, like the rest of us, most probably doesn’t know for sure that Lewis is coming back, but this is how I see it. Lewis has faced adversity all his life, and he thrives on it. He will want to fight for his eighth championship, and he will want to nurture George to take over the reins at Mercedes when he chooses to retire. He won’t be pushed out because people like Bernie Ecclestone want him to leave, he will fight back.
I think he will be on the grid this year, and I guarantee that when George beats him, and sometimes he will, Lewis will be the first to congratulate him. Lewis demonstrated last year that he is gracious in defeat, he congratulated Max after every race that he won, and he will do the same with George, and anyone else manages to beat him.
I believe he will return, and we will see some great performances from him, but we will also see good sportsmanship. He is an inspiration to many young boys and girls who dream of succeeding in Formula One, he loves the sport and, at 37, is still at the top of his game. I believe that once the season starts, the fire will be back inside him to remain the best in the world, and once he finally hangs up his helmet, he will still be at the top of his game.
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