Would Lewis Hamilton prefer Lando Norris to George Russell as a teammate?
After their exchanges in Austria, F1 journalist Tom Clarkson wonders if there was a motive behind Lewis Hamilton’s praise for Lando Norris.
In a sensational performance in qualifying, Norris put his McLaren P2 on the Austrian Grand Prix grid, before keeping Hamilton at bay until lap 20.
After finally making the pass, Hamilton took to team radio to call Norris a “great driver” as the 21-year-old returned to Hamilton later in the race.
And speaking on the F1 Nation podcast, Clarkson revealed that Hamilton approached Norris in the TV pen after the race to once again praise his efforts.
Hamilton could well be part of an all-British squad at Mercedes next season with George Russell widely expected to win promotion, but would the seven-time world champion actually prefer Norris in the second Mercedes?
Clarkson wonders if this public praise for Norris was a clue from Hamilton.
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“I was told in the TV pen Lando arrived after the podium, Lewis stopped whatever he was doing, walked up to Lando, put his hand on his shoulder and said ‘hello, Speedy Gonzales, “” he said.
“So not only was there the radio message, there was also this great show in the TV pen. What does that mean?
“I think it’s relevant because we’re now discussing who his partner at Mercedes will be. Toto Wolff said it would be either Valtteri Bottas or George Russell, but is Lewis putting on weight Lando Norris just to lift a few questions in Toto’s head?
“I think Lewis would love to have Valtteri Bottas by his side because that’s a known amount. I’m just wondering if Lewis is playing googly. It sounded weird. If you wanted to compliment a driver, why do you have to do it in front of everyone. TV cameras? Why not do it away from TV cameras – it would mean more, it would sound more sincere, wouldn’t it? “
Asked by Sky F1 about Hamilton’s praise on the radio, Norris said, “To have that kind of respect and have him say it, you know, that means a lot.
“I don’t know if he could say that because he admitted that he wasn’t going to run us or that he had a problem or whatever. Maybe if we had run fair and square maybe he wouldn’t have said it, I don’t know.
“But these are kind words so I appreciate it.”
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