Formula 1 world champions Jacques Villeneuve and Jenson Button have expressed concerns about potential friction between Lewis Hamilton and George Russell during their last season together at Mercedes.
Hamilton’s upcoming shift to Ferrari in 2025 has been confirmed, and despite his assurance of being “100 per cent committed” to Mercedes for another year, both Villeneuve and Button foresee the possibility of Hamilton’s departure affecting team dynamics.
Jacques Villeneuve, the 1997 world champion, suspects internal issues at Mercedes and anticipates a “confrontation” between Hamilton and Russell in the upcoming season.
His observation points to underlying tensions that may surface as the team navigates this period of transition.
When asked by Italian publication Gazzetta dello Sport what will entertain F1 fans this season, he replied: “See how Mercedes will handle the confrontation between Russell and Hamilton. Inside Mercedes, there is something wrong. Lewis no longer believes in the engineers, he no longer believes in Toto.
“The team, after all the space and freedom they gave him, didn’t expect such a farewell. It was Mercedes that created Hamilton’s image. They believed he would remain an ambassador for life.”
Echoing Villeneuve’s sentiments, Button suggests that this early revelation could lead to internal challenges within Mercedes, hinting at the delicate balance of team dynamics and the potential for disruptions as the team prepares for Hamilton’s departure.
“It’s a big deal and I cannot wait to see how he goes in the Ferrari. The weird thing is that it is quite an early call, though, to mention it this early on. It’s a year before he’ll be stepping into the Ferrari, so how is that atmosphere going to be at Mercedes? It’s not easy,” said Button.
He continued: “What do they hold back from Lewis? I mean, he knows the ins and outs of this team very well anyway but, when they get down to the nitty-gritty, are there going to be certain things they hold back from Lewis? Possibly.
“For George [Russell], he’s got to start thinking about a new team-mate again. Is it going to be someone like one of these karting rivals – Alex Albon – or is it going to be Fernando Alonso, the guy that just doesn’t go away? He’s always there fighting for the top spots in the top teams. So who knows?”