Nico Rosberg believes Lewis Hamilton could find himself in a "really uncomfortable situation" next season if Mercedes recruit George Russell inflicts defeat upon the seven-time world champion.
Russell will join the championship winning team from 2022 and the 23-year-old ambitions to pick up the baton from Hamilton, having offered a glimpse of his massive potential last year in Bahrain where the Briton deputized for the Mercedes driver who had been sidelined by Covid.
But Rosberg, the only teammate to defeat Hamilton in the F1 world championship, reckons his former nemesis is heading into a no-win situation with Russell, as beating the Briton will appear as normal while the latter will only gain from defeating his elder.
"The positive [for Russell] is he has nothing to lose and everything to gain because you’re up against the best of all time," Rosberg told Sky F1.
"Nobody expects you to destroy him but if you manage to, you’ll be the absolute biggest hero of all time.
"That’s what makes it so difficult for Lewis because he’s got this young gun who’s never won anything coming in, so Lewis can only lose actually.
"He’s the greatest, and imagine this young gun starts to beat him…that’s a really uncomfortable situation to be in."
Rosberg believes the pair's early battles next year – and the extent of Russell's resolution when fighting wheel-to-wheel with his teammate – could set the tone at Mercedes, with the Brackley squad potentially facing a difficult situation between its drivers, perhaps reminiscent of the combative rivalry that once opposed Hamilton and… Rosberg!
"The challenge for George is also in that first wheel-to-wheel battle," commented the 2016 F1 world champion. "Does he yield or does he stick in there?
"That’s so difficult because if he sticks in there and [a collision] is entirely his fault, that would be a disastrous start to his time at Mercedes.
"But if he sticks in there and it’s not his fault and more Lewis’ fault, it would be a giant boost for the confidence and to really calm Lewis, so it’s such a difficult one to manage.
"It’s such a fine line. Valtteri has been too conservative throughout five years, so he’s got it a bit wrong. There are other examples of being a bit too aggressive, so it’s such a fine line."