Ahead of a bumper Silverstone weekend, Mark Hughes analyses George Russell and Lando Norris’ superb seasons and explains why they’re primed to take on Lewis Hamilton’s mantle; Watch the British GP live on Sky Sports F1, with Sunday’s race at 3pm

Last Updated: 29/06/22 11:25am

It’s quite feasible – even likely – that Lewis Hamilton’s amazing winning streak at the British Grand Prix will not be extended on Sunday, given the less than stellar form of his Mercedes W13 to date.

That difficulty so late in his career has led to the inevitable questions about how long Hamilton might want to continue.

Still chasing that record-busting eighth world title, he’s contracted with Mercedes until the end of next year. In Montreal he seemed to be accepting that the title isn’t going to be coming his way this year.

“I think this is the car for the year,” he said. “We just have to tough it out and work hard on building a better car for next year.”

So if the eighth title comes in 2023, does he bow out, mission accomplished? Does he keep going, looking for number nine, even as the years are clocking up? Or if additional championships prove elusive, how much longer does he keep trying?

Relive Lewis Hamilton's huge crash with title rival Max Verstappen at last year's British Grand Prix.

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Relive Lewis Hamilton’s huge crash with title rival Max Verstappen at last year’s British Grand Prix.

Relive Lewis Hamilton’s huge crash with title rival Max Verstappen at last year’s British Grand Prix.

These are all questions which have been swirling around him for a long time and for which only he can have the answers – and maybe not even him. But on the day he does finally step down, he will leave a vacuum behind.

But the sport will continue, with new heroes formed, maybe even – one day – new records set. With much of the fan following being heavily based around nationalities, Britain is well served with two young potential world class performers in George Russell and Lando Norris.

Russell proving himself alongside Hamilton

Russell’s worth is being directly measured this year against team-mate Hamilton of course, and in that comparison he is so far looking remarkably good. In the dry qualifying sessions (ie not including Imola and Canada) he is 4-3 up, with an average advantage of 0.136s.

George Russell somehow held off Max Verstappen in a battle for second place at the Spanish Grand Prix.

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George Russell somehow held off Max Verstappen in a battle for second place at the Spanish Grand Prix.

George Russell somehow held off Max Verstappen in a battle for second place at the Spanish Grand Prix.

The specifications of the cars have not always been the same, as the team has experimented extensively, attempting a fuller understanding of the Mercedes W13’s problems. But nonetheless, Russell has been extremely impressive in how he has adapted and is clearly genuinely competitive with Hamilton on a more consistent basis than was the case with his predecessor Valtteri Bottas.

This after some of his extraordinary qualifying achievements in the Williams last year – notably the Spa front row and Sochi second row – mark him out as something quite special, with immense potential. He has, after all, only once competed in a grand prix with a fully competitive car (Sakhir 2020) and but for a puncture would have won it.

George Russell was pleased with the pace of his Mercedes, but says they are yet to fully resolve their porpoising issues.

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George Russell was pleased with the pace of his Mercedes, but says they are yet to fully resolve their porpoising issues.

George Russell was pleased with the pace of his Mercedes, but says they are yet to fully resolve their porpoising issues.

Norris continues to shine despite difficult McLaren car

Just as with Russell, Norris’ car is less competitive this year than was hoped.

The McLaren MCL36 is just not as strong relative to the competition as last year’s car which scored a 1-2 in the Italian Grand Prix and allowed Norris to set pole position at Sochi and come within an ace of winning the race. But although his opportunities to repeat such form are limited this year, he has continued to shade team mate Daniel Ricciardo to crisis point.

Ride onboard with Lando Norris as Sky F1's Karun Chandhok analyses the McLaren driver's lap from Friday practice in Baku.

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Ride onboard with Lando Norris as Sky F1’s Karun Chandhok analyses the McLaren driver’s lap from Friday practice in Baku.

Ride onboard with Lando Norris as Sky F1’s Karun Chandhok analyses the McLaren driver’s lap from Friday practice in Baku.

Norris’ ability to conjure speed on corner entry has left Ricciardo – a driver who competed closely with Max Verstappen at Red Bull – reeling. Partly, this has to do with Ricciardo’s difficulties in adapting to the traits of the McLaren but only a pummelling level of performance from Norris has exposed this. The evidence suggests that Norris, just like Russell, is poised to win races and fight for titles just as soon as he is in a competitive car.

Whether either of them will ever approach the scale of Hamilton’s achievements is quite another matter, but in imagining future days of Silverstone post-race victory celebration, with hundreds of thousands cheering for the home hero, it’s quite easy to picture either Russell or Norris at the centre of it all.

F1 2022 heads to Silverstone this weekend for the big event of the motorsport summer. Join Sky Sports F1 for extensive coverage across the British GP weekend – the race starts at 2pm on Sunday, July 3.