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Lewis Hamilton ‘wrongly questioned’ over prospect of George Russell rivalry, Toto Wolff claims

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Toto Wolff has suggested that people are wrong to question how Lewis Hamilton will handle his new partnership at Mercedes with George Russell.

Russell has joined the German team from Williams and will replace Valtteri Bottas as the second Mercedes driver on the grid in 2022.

While the seven-time world champion enjoyed a strong relationship with Bottas, his combination with previous teammate Nico Rosberg did not always work smoothly.

It has been suggested that Hamilton, whose future is not yet fully certain after the controversial end to the 2021 F1 season, and the ambitious Russell could clash.

However Mercedes boss Wolff has suggested that such fears are significantly overblown and an unfair reflection of Hamilton’s character.

“I would wish that we had two lightning-fast drivers fighting for victory,” Wolff told Auto Motor und Sport on his hopes for the new pairing.

“And if not, then we need these drivers to get our car back on the winning track.

“The measure of Lewis is often wrongly questioned. Even after the events in Abu Dhabi, he immediately congratulated Max [Verstappen].

“Lewis only wants one thing: fair competition on the track. We will deliver that.”

Russell is yet to win a Grand Prix but achieved a career-best second-placed finish at the Belgian Grand Prix last season, beating Hamilton to the second step of the podium behind race victor Verstappen.

The 2018 Formula 2 champion has been tipped as a rising star who could contend quickly at Mercedes.

Hamilton is said to be weighing his options as he awaits the conclusions of an FIA investigation into the events of the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, and has not yet publicly committed to returning ahead of the 2022 season start in Bahrain in March.

The first round of preseason testing in Barcelona is now less than a month away, and Mercedes are set to launch their car for the season on 18 February.

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