Russell unexpectedly outperformed his seven-time world champion teammate in his maiden season with Mercedes last year, and is just 22 points behind Hamilton after the first six races of 2023.
Former F1 driver and Sky Sports pundit Herbert believes Russell has what it takes to “produce what Mercedes need” long after Hamilton has called time on his illustrious career.
"Mercedes are in a very lucky position because we are all very aware of what George Russell does,” Herbert said in an interview with OLBG.
“He has really stepped up and he has really put Hamilton under a lot of pressure. Russell is the future whatever we think of Hamilton, who we know is still good enough to win races.
“Russell is more than capable of being the driver to produce what Mercedes need and who will be very beneficial to them in the future.
"We are in a very different scenario because Mercedes are not able to give Hamilton or Russell a car which they are able to win a world championship with. The whole raison d’etre of a driver is to be world champion.
“You are always aware of what is going around you, you are always aware of who might be the next team with the potential to be with.
“Hamilton has definitely had a wakeup call in the last couple of seasons where Mercedes are not on top of their game as they once were.
"Hamilton will be thinking, ‘Where am I going to get that chance of an eight title?’ He deserves it for all the reasons we know about. Where is going to give me that fulfilment to be able to do that?’”
And Herbert still doesn’t think a sensational switch to Ferrari is completely off the cards for Hamilton.
"Hamilton has been on the verge of signing for about a month or more, but I am still thinking there is this Ferrari chance,” he said.
“I know they have denied it, but the deal hasn’t been done at Mercedes. They keep saying it’s close. I wonder if there is still something else going on outside this.
“I think it is worth a punt by Lewis as I see it that Mercedes, despite the improvement in Barcelona, are still way behind the curve when it comes to challenging Red Bull and to winning races.
"Ferrari have a hell of a lot of potential which they can bring to the table. I still have a question mark about Mercedes-Benz at this time.
"The improvements in Barcelona was one race for Mercedes. Let’s see what happens in Canada and the next couple of races.
“Monaco was pretty much the same old, it was better in Barcelona but we don’t know if it will be repeated. Despite that improvement, they are still a long way off the Red Bull.
"Ferrari have a quick car, but their biggest issue of late is they haven’t been able to get the best out of it in a race. The race pace was way off. They haven’t moved forward really.
"The lower downforce at Montreal might benefit them, but can they come up with a solution for their race pace, which is a problem. It’s a very difficult thing to change during a season.
"The pure speed of the Ferrari is there or thereabouts with Red Bull but they fall down when it comes down to the race. That can be sorted out."