David Coulthard has backed Lewis Hamilton to increase the pressure on George Russell during the 2023 Formula 1 season and show his Mercedes team-mate why he’s the most successful driver in the sport’s history.

Mercedes has commenced the current campaign off the pace of the front-running squads, as was the case in 2022.

Mercedes’ form is differing greatly compared to the dominant speed it displayed in the first years of the turbo hybrid era, when it won eight consecutive Constructors’ Championships.

Russell joined Mercedes from Williams in 2022 and is now in possession of his most competitive F1 car, despite the team being unable to fight at the front.

While Hamilton has often struggled to unlock the car’s potential since 2022, Coulthard says that his impressive form has not vanished.

“This is the best car that George has ever driven, remember he was at Williams, this is not the best car that Lewis has ever driven,” said Coulthard told Channel 4.  

“His mind is in a different place, the car isn’t talking to him, playing to his strengths and you can see he is fighting it out there, it’s just not stable.  

“So you have two drivers at different phases of their career. The mighty Lewis is still in there, it just won’t really show itself until the Mercedes is as mighty as it once was.”

Questions about Hamilton’s future have been floating around as the Briton’s contract with Mercedes expires at the end of the year.

Coulthard suggested that Russell not having the situation of thinking about his future is playing into his hands amid the intra-team fight.

“George is just sort of constantly there,” said Coulthard. “This is the best car he’s ever driven, so he’s not caught up with the baggage of Lewis trying to figure it out, ‘am I re-signing for another year?’ ‘Can I win another World Championship?’ So there’s a lot more on his plate. 

“George is doing a brilliant job, [he is an] absolute asset for the team.

“That’s not to say Lewis isn’t doing a brilliant job, it just means that the car isn’t talking to him right now and when it does, expect him to be showing George why he won seven World Championships.”

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