When else has Lewis Hamilton battled a more successful F1 team-mate?
Struggling against Jenson Button in 2011, besting Fernando Alonso in 2007, off the pace in 2022 – with Lewis Hamilton facing calls to RETIRE after being outshone by Mercedes’ George Russell, when else has the Brit battled a more successful F1 team-mate?
- Mercedes star Lewis Hamilton is enduring an annus horribilis in Formula One
- After controversially missing out on the 2021 title, Hamilton returned to F1
- Previously dominant team Mercedes have been mired with vehicle problems
- Team-mate George Russell is outperforming him, leading rivals to mock the Brit
- The seven-time world champion, 37, has faced calls to retire from the sport
- So Sportsmail assesses the previous seasons Hamilton has battled a team-mate
Safe to say the last four-and-a-half months of Lewis Hamilton’s Formula One career have not exactly gone to plan.
Even setting aside the hugely controversial denouement to last season, in which title rival Max Verstappen snatched the world championship in contentious fashion at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, this year was supposed to be a fresh start.
The chance to right wrongs, settle matters on the track and maybe even win an eighth world title, taking him beyond Michael Schumacher as the most decorated F1 driver of all time.
But after four races of the 2022 campaign, Hamilton lies seventh in the drivers’ standings, with less than half the total (28) of Verstappen (59) in second, and just four points clear of former team-mate Valtteri Bottas in the unfancied Alfa Romeo.
For the first time in six years, the Brit could be outscored by a team-mate, with the comparative success of George Russell at Mercedes considered by some – like Ralf Schumacher – as evidence Russell is the better driver, Hamilton is past his best, or that he may not even finish the season.
That criticism came to a head after the GP at Imola last weekend, when Russell finished fourth to Hamilton’s distant 13th, leading him to deny reports of retirement, and insist he will go out on his own terms.
The 37-year-old also ruled himself out of the Championship, in the same way Everton need to rule themselves out of the race for the Premier League title. Mocking and sympathy from bitter rivals Red Bull followed – both damaging.
So Sportsmail assesses the other campaigns when Hamilton has battled a team-mate – from ousting Fernando Alonso in 2007, to being edged out by compatriot Jenson Button in 2011 and two competitive seasons against Nico Rosberg.
Lewis Hamilton finished 13th, a lap behind winner Max Verstappen, in Imola in Sunday’s race
Hamilton has dismissed his title chances and is already 58 points off leader Charles Leclerc
The superstar’s misery was compounded by team-mate George Russell finishing fourth
Hamilton vs Fernando Alonso, 2007
Spaniard Fernando Alonso is considered one of the most talented drivers in the sport’s history. After winning two successive titles in 2005 and 2006, then, he would expect to be top dog at McLaren-Mercedes.
But young gun Hamilton, in his first season, recorded nine successive podium finishes – a record for a rookie – and the joint-most wins in a debut season with four.
Ostensibly signed as a second driver to learn under and support Alonso, the precocious 22-year-old butted heads with the ‘top dog’.
Hamilton finished second that season, level on points with Alonso and just one point behind Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, and McLaren backed him, terminating their deal with Alonso in November and tying Hamilton down to a multi-million pound deal.
Hamilton edged out experienced team-mate Fernando Alonso (right) in his first season in 2007
The Brit ended up level on points with but ahead of the talented Spaniard at the end of the year
Hamilton vs Jenson Button, 2011
2011 marked the first year Hamilton finished below a team-mate, with McLaren’s Jenson Button capitalising on a surprisingly ill-disciplined season for his compatriot.
A succession of on-track incidents led to six driver penalties across the campaign – a record high – leading to several run-ins with FIA officials.
Hamilton himself also blamed distractions in his personal life – particularly breaking up with his girlfriend – as having affected him in a season where he only finished fifth.
The Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal, the seventh race of the season, which saw team-mates Button and Hamilton collide in the pit straight was widely seen as a turning point that year.
Button sensationally moved through the field from last to first and went on to finish second behind Sebastian Vettel, while Hamilton’s season petered out.
2011 was the first year Hamilton finished behind a team-mate, McLaren’s Jenson Button (left)
Button capitalised on an ill-disciplined season from Hamilton to finish second in the standings
Hamilton vs Nico Rosberg, 2014
Joining Mercedes from McLaren in 2013 was a surprising move for the Brit, one which saw him join up with childhood karting team-mate Nico Rosberg.
But the pair endured an always fierce and often tense internecine rivalry on and off track at Mercedes, with a season-long title battle against the German.
Although it looked as if Rosberg – son of 1982 Championship winner Keke – would end up victorious, Hamilton stormed to the finish line, winning six out of the last seven races – four directly ahead of Rosberg in second – to clinch his second title.
Knowing the win meant more given how hard he fought against Rosberg, Hamilton declared it the greatest day of his life over team radio.
The Brit endured several tight season-long title battles with team-mate Nico Rosberg (left)
Hamilton vs Nico Rosberg, 2016
Rosberg, though, would eventually have his revenge.
Mercedes’ policy of ‘letting them drive’ – allowing the two drivers to fight freely rather than designate a No 1 and encourage the No 2 to act as a domestique – resulted in numerous rancourous incidents between the pair.
Rosberg won the first four races of the season and although Hamilton recovered, also winning four on the bounce – six in seven – mid-season and in the final four races, the German’s superior consistency saw him win the title by five points.
Hamilton then disregarded team orders in the Abu Dhabi season-closer, slowing down significantly to put Rosberg closer to the chasing pack in the hope other drivers would overtake him and give him an unlikely, dramatic victory.
A critical engine failure in Malaysia and a slow start to the season ultimately cost him – a harsh lesson he would learn.
Rosberg instantly retired and rode off into the sunset, with Hamilton left to wonder what might have been.
Former F1 driver Ralf Schumacher claimed Hamilton must admit Russell is the better driver
Hamilton is at risk of finishing below a team-mate for the first time in six years this campaign
Hamilton vs George Russell, 2022
True, there have only been four races this season.
But Mercedes, and especially Hamilton, look miles off the pace and light years off the title-chasers.
A good start in a strong car were needed after the shock and disbelief of Abu Dhabi in December. Hamilton got neither.
The ‘porpoising’ is horrendous in the Mercedes but that still doesn’t account for Russell’s performances.
The 24-year-old tyro is in a similar position to Hamilton’s first season alongside Alonso in 2007.
Russell is at the opposite end of his career, has everything to prove, and – so far at least – has the run on his more illustrious and decorated team-mate.
Hamilton can likely live with team failures denying him the opportunity for a record eighth title.
But can he live with being outscored and outfought by a kid in his first season at Mercedes?
If the season continues as it’s currently going, F1 fans may well find out the answer to that question.
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