Hamilton exit will give Mercedes fresh start - Russell

motorsport04 April 2024 11:15| © AFP
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George Russell © Gallo Images

George Russell believes Mercedes can start with "a fresh sheet of paper" without Lewis Hamilton and says their relationship has improved since his Ferrari-bound teammate announced he is leaving after this season.

Seven-time world champion Hamilton made the shock announcement in February that he is quitting Mercedes after 11 years to replace Carlos Sainz at Ferrari.

Mercedes have yet to name Hamilton's successor but Russell will remain with the Silver Arrows next season.

The 26-year-old British driver told AFP that he thinks the move will be good for Hamilton and will also allow Mercedes to move on.

"I think a change for him is positive, a change for us is positive," he said ahead of this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix.

"It's a fresh sheet of paper. Sometimes when you have so much success from the past, you're leaning on all of the experience of those winning days.

"But the days today are different."

Russell said he was "surprised, same as everyone else" when he heard about Hamilton's move, but he thinks the early announcement has brought "clarity" to the situation.

He said Hamilton's impending exit has done nothing to weaken their working relationship.

"If anything, I could argue that things are better, to be honest," said Russell.

"Of course, we're in a different situation but I think Lewis has been very rational and constructive and objective when we're talking with the team, with the feedback.