Russell has entered the team after Valtteri Bottas left at the end of the 2021 campaign to join Alfa Romeo. There were question marks over whether Hamilton would be Russell’s teammate after rumours suggested he wouldn’t compete following the drama at teh Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
But the British driver has confirmed he is taking part and while at the Mercedes 2022 launch the pair looked close, Schumacher is convinced there is an intrateam battle taking place.
“I thought it was interesting how gentle the two drivers, Lewis Hamilton and George Russell, were with each other [at the launch],” said Schumacher, quoted by Speedweek. “The young Russell was very careful with his comments and emphasised he wants to learn a lot now.
“The tone was quite different when George replaced Lewis in Bahrain 2020 (Sakhir Grand Prix when Hamilton had COVID) and drove alongside Valtteri Bottas. But I’m convinced that internally it looks different, and I already believe he can beat Lewis from the start.”
Hamilton has been the main driver at Mercedes for a number of seasons, winning seven world titles. Schumacher added he can see why Bottas has been replaced and questions why the Finnish star remained at Toto Wolff’s team for so long.
“There was always a push from us on Sky to change something there. I never quite understood why it took so long to replace Valtteri Bottas.
“I think George Russell is an exceptional talent. Whether he will develop like Lewis Hamilton did remains to be seen. We also have to remember Lewis is 37 years old and Mercedes have to think about the future.”