Mark Hughes says Hamilton retains “raw pace” edge over Russell

© Jiri Krenek for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

The Race’s Mark Hughes takes a look at how Lewis Hamilton and George Russell compare in the first three races of the 2022 F1 season.

Even before George Russell joined Mercedes, F1 fans and journalists have been interested to see how the young Briton will compare to the seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton.

Although it’s hard to draw any conclusions after only three races, respected F1 journalist Mark Hughes took a shot at deciphering who looks better at the moment.

“Lewis Hamilton and George Russell have much more important problems at the moment than how they are comparing to each other,” Hughes wrote in his The Race column.

“That would be of immense importance if the Mercedes was as competitive as in the previous eight seasons.

“But correcting the car’s serious performance shortfall to Ferrari and Red Bull is obviously the first order of business.

“However, that’s a perspective from the inside. For those of us looking on, the comparison between the seven-time world champion and his new young team-mate, the probable long-term succession plan for Mercedes, remains irresistibly fascinating.”

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Hughes goes on to write that the two drivers have been relatively evenly matched, with Hamilton having a slight edge, but less luck in the opening races.

“Three races in, how does that comparison look beneath the bald statistics?

“Russell sits in an extremely flattering second place in the drivers championship thanks to the thus-far poor reliability of the Red Bulls and the various dramas of Carlos Sainz.

“Hamilton sits nine points behind, in fifth place. They have each scored a third-place podium, flattered by Red Bull retirements.

“In Russell’s case, flattered also by a lucky break with the timing of the Melbourne safety car, otherwise the stats would be Hamilton 2-0 Russell.

“But they have generally raced in a very similar part of the field and are closely matched thus far.”

Hughes then acknowledged the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix which was hard for Hamilton as a qualifying set-up gamble relegated him to P16 on the starting grid.

However, Hughes ultimately believes Hamilton is still stronger in terms of pace.

“Overall, Russell’s assimilation into the team has been terrific. Hamilton at the moment probably retains the edge in raw pace, but that’s only to be expected.

“He was, after all, initially not as fast as Nico Rosberg when he joined in 2013, but developed through the season to become faster.

“In reality, it’s a very early take but Russell has been close enough that the prospect of how they compare when Mercedes can give them a fully competitive car remains an exciting one,” Hughes concluded.

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