Mercedes have improved from an early-season disaster blighted by porpoising to register their best results of 2022 prior to the summer break and return for the Belgian Grand Prix this weekend in the best shape of the year.

Hamilton stands to lose his all-time record of having won a race every season, but he has threatened to keep it alive with five consecutive podium finishes, while Russell has come third in the past two races.

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Sky Sports’ Chandhok wrote in his column: “I feel like the post-2018 Lewis Hamilton is different to the one from years before where he's fully recognised that the points and prizes come in the races and therefore it's crucial to get the car in the window he likes for the longer stints, even if that compromises his outright qualifying speed.

“He may be 12 points behind George in the points table at the moment, but those dreadful weekends in Saudi Arabia and Imola seem a long time ago. 

“This inter-team battle will be fun to watch!

“There's absolutely no doubt that if Mercedes have a car that is ready to start fighting for wins regularly, then Russell is ready to deliver those. 

“However, his biggest challenge is still the man on the other side of the pit garage.”

Max Verstappen of Red Bull looks primed to win a second consecutive driver’s championship, after the events of Abu Dhabi 2021, but the second half of this season could tee up a renewed charge from Mercedes in 2023.