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British GP: George Russell and Lando Norris show F1’s post-Lewis Hamilton era in great form

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Ahead of a terrific weekend at Silverstone, Mark Hughes looks back on the terrific seasons of George Russell and Lando Norris and explains why they are poised to take over from Lewis Hamilton; Watch the British GP live on Sky Sports F1, with the race on Sunday at 3pm

Last update: 06/29/22 11:25 am

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It’s quite possible, even likely, that Lewis Hamilton’s incredible British Grand Prix winning streak won’t be extended on Sunday, given the less-than-stellar form of his Mercedes W13 to date.

That difficulty so late in his career has led to the inevitable questions about how long Hamilton will want to continue.

Still chasing that record-breaking eighth world title, he is under contract with Mercedes until the end of next year. In Montreal he seemed to accept that the title will not come to him this year.

“I think this is the car of the year,” he said. “We just have to stick with it and work hard to build a better car for next year.”

So if the eighth title comes in 2023, will he retire, mission accomplished? Are you still looking for the number nine, even when the years are running out? Or if additional championships prove elusive, how much longer will he keep trying?

Relive Lewis Hamilton's big crash with title rival Max Verstappen at last year's British Grand Prix.

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Relive Lewis Hamilton’s big crash with title rival Max Verstappen at last year’s British Grand Prix.

Relive Lewis Hamilton’s big crash with title rival Max Verstappen at last year’s British Grand Prix.

These are all questions that have been circling around him for a long time and for which only he can have the answers, and maybe not even him. But the day he finally steps down, he will leave a void behind.

But the sport will go on, with new heroes formed, perhaps even, one day, new records set. With much of the following largely based on nationalities, Britain is well served with two potential world-class young artists in George Russell and Lando Norris.

Russell proving himself alongside Hamilton

Russell’s value is measured squarely this year against his teammate Hamilton, of course, and in that comparison so far he’s looking very good. In the dry qualifying sessions (ie excluding Imola and Canada) he is 4-3 up, with an average lead of 0.136s.

George Russell somehow held off Max Verstappen in a battle for second place at the Spanish Grand Prix.

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George Russell somehow held off Max Verstappen in a battle for second place at the Spanish Grand Prix.

George Russell somehow held off Max Verstappen in a battle for second place at the Spanish Grand Prix.

The specifications of the cars have not always been the same, as the team has experimented a lot, trying to better understand the problems of the Mercedes W13. But nonetheless, Russell has been extremely impressive in the way he has adapted and is clearly genuinely competitive with Hamilton on a more consistent basis than his predecessor Valtteri Bottas.

This after some of his extraordinary qualifying achievements at Williams last year, notably the front row at Spa and the second row at Sochi, mark him out as something quite special, with immense potential. After all, he has only competed in a grand prix once in a fully competitive car (Sakhir 2020) and had it not been for a puncture he would have won it.

George Russell was pleased with the pace of his Mercedes but says they have yet to fully resolve their porpoise issues.

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George Russell was pleased with the pace of his Mercedes but says they have yet to fully resolve their porpoise issues.

George Russell was pleased with the pace of his Mercedes but says they have yet to fully resolve their porpoise issues.

Norris continues to shine despite difficult McLaren car

As with Russell, Norris’s car is less competitive this year than expected.

The McLaren MCL36 isn’t quite as strong relative to the competition as last year’s car that went 1-2 at the Italian Grand Prix and allowed Norris to establish pole position at Sochi and come within an ace of winning the race. But while his chances of repeating that form are limited this year, he has continued to threaten teammate Daniel Ricciardo to crisis point.

Climb aboard with Lando Norris as Sky F1's Karun Chandhok discusses the McLaren driver's lap in Friday practice in Baku.

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Climb aboard with Lando Norris as Sky F1’s Karun Chandhok discusses the McLaren driver’s lap in Friday practice in Baku.

Climb aboard with Lando Norris as Sky F1’s Karun Chandhok discusses the McLaren driver’s lap in Friday practice in Baku.

Norris’s ability to conjure speed going into corners has left Ricciardo, a driver who competed closely with Max Verstappen at Red Bull, reeling. In part, this has to do with Ricciardo’s difficulties in adapting to the characteristics of the McLaren, but only Norris’s impressive level of performance has exposed this. The evidence suggests that Norris, like Russell, is poised to win races and fight for titles as soon as he’s in a competitive car.

Whether any of them will ever come close to the scale of Hamilton’s achievement is another question, but envisioning the future days of Silverstone’s post-race victory celebration, with hundreds of thousands cheering for the local hero, it’s quite easy to imagine Russell or Norris at the center of it all.

F1 2022 heads to Silverstone this weekend for motorsport’s biggest event of the summer. Join Sky Sports F1 for extensive coverage throughout the British GP weekend – the race starts at 2pm on Sunday 3rd July.

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