Russell out-scored Hamilton by 35 points in his first year with the team, taking Mercedes’ only win and pole position in 2022.

However, the final F1 standings didn’t tell the whole picture with experimental setups in the first half year, combined with some misfortune, put Hamilton on the back foot. 

F1 2023 driver line-up - who will underachieve?

Regardless, the pair were evenly-matched throughout the year, giving Mercedes arguably the best 2023 F1 driver line-up.

Tost - who is in charge of Red Bull’s sister team, AlphaTauri - thinks Russell will be the one to take the fight to Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc next year.

“The superiority shown by Max Verstappen and Red Bull Racing this year is quite rare. I expect a three-way battle between Max, Charles Leclerc and George Russell, who is already stronger than Lewis Hamilton”, Tost said as quoted in Marca.

Change at AlphaTauri

After losing Pierre Gasly to Alpine, AlphaTauri have signed Nyck de Vries alongside Yuki Tsunoda.

De Vries isn’t a typical rookie given his wealth of motorsport experience, winning the F2 and Formula E titles in recent years.

At 27, de Vries is two years older than reigning champion Verstappen.

Tost admitted that AlphaTauri were impressed by how de Vries performed at the recent end-of-season Abu Dhabi test.

"Yuki Tsunoda has developed reasonably well, has been able to improve and has been faster than Pierre Gasly in recent qualifying,” he added. “How much he can still improve will depend solely on him, but I expect a strong 2023. 

“And Nyck had a very good test in Abu Dhabi and his feedback was very good, we were impressed."