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Lewis Hamilton refuses to admit he’s Mercedes No1 as team face tough decision after George Russell’s hot start to 2022

LEWIS HAMILTON denied being Mercedes’ top driver and insisted that he works in tandem with team-mate George Russell.

Russell’s outperformed Hamilton in the F1 this season by finishing amongst the top five during every race thus far.

Hamilton denied he’s Mercedes’ leader and insisted he and team-mate Russell are equals

The 24-year-old’s scintillating start has catapulted him into fourth spot in the F1 rankings.

Hamilton’s beginning to the campaign has been the polar opposite, and the former world champion languishes in sixth position on the table.

The 37-year-old remains 28 points behind his Mercedes compatriot despite producing a magical display to finish in P5 at the Spanish GP after an early collision.

Russell ended the same race on the podium, just behind Red Bull duo Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen – who finished in P1.

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Hamilton and Russell’s contrasting form of late seems to be signalling a power shift at Mercedes where Hamilton’s ruled the roost in recent times.

However, Hamilton refuted rumours suggesting he calls the shots at Mercedes, and claimed he and new-boy Russell synergistically work for the team’s progress.

Speaking to the Independent, Hamilton said: “Well, firstly, I wouldn’t say I’m the leader. George and I work equally hard together, I would say, to help drive the team and row just as hard as everyone else in the team.

“But through adversity and challenging times you always learn more about yourself, how you deal with things, how you reflect on things, how you are able to turn negatives into positives.

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“I wouldn’t say I’ve learned particularly much more, so I will say past experiences have helped during this phase. And I would say to just reassuring the strength I know I have mentally.”

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The Mercedes collective now have the difficult task of catching up to F1 leaders Red Bull who lead the rankings with 195 points.

Ferrari sit in second on 169 points, leaving third-placed Mercedes needing to reduce a 75 points deficit.

But Hamilton’s relishing the challenge and insisted he and Russell are up to the task at hand.

He added: “Also, just reassuring us I still love my job, I still love the challenge even if it’s not fighting for wins.

‘I’m still enjoying this battle we are having internally in terms of trying to, with the car I mean, trying to chase down these other guys.”

Hamilton’s optimism was shared by Mercedes’ boss Toto Wolff who explained his theory on how his team can turn things around after the Spanish GP.

However, some critics believe Wolff will have to make a choice between Hamilton and Russell soon for the team’s benefit.

This sentiment was echoed by Jacques Villeneuve who reckons Mercedes can either keep hold of “mega-star” Hamilton – or choose to nurture Russell’s talents.

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