Last season the Mercedes duo were never in contention for the drivers’ championship but, intriguingly, Russell claimed the team’s only grand prix victory in Brazil and outscored Hamilton over the season.
Should their new W14 machinery provide a platform to challenge the dominance of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, Hamilton may find that another threat for race wins is coming from inside his own team.
“If Mercedes do get their act together, the attention on Lewis and George is going to go into overdrive,” ex-F1 driver Hill said in the Telegraph.
“Last season they neatly avoided any run-ins by virtue of being in the trenches together. But if they have a winning car, that is when things get serious.
“George is as mild-mannered and respectful as they come, but when the prize is so big, when it is that thing you have been working towards your entire life, elbows inevitably get sharper.
“If I was forced to back one of them, I’d probably plump for Lewis on the basis of his greater experience and the fact he appears to have his mojo back, especially if he sniffs a victory. He looks and sounds in great shape.
“Certainly I think George would have to do something more than he did last year to get the better of his team-mate again. But it’s doubtful we have seen ‘peak George’ just yet.”
Hamilton, now 38, was forced into testing many of Mercedes’ upgrades in the early parts of 2022 as they battled awful problems with porpoising.
The seven-time world champion failed to win a race for the first season in his esteemed career.
And he watched on as Russell claimed his first-ever grand prix victory at Interlagos.
A true battle between the Mercedes teammates never materialised last season but Hamilton is no stranger to competition from within his own ranks, having fought tooth-and-nail with Fernando Alonso, Jenson Button, Nico Rosberg and Valtteri Bottas over his career.
The 2023 season begins this weekend at the F1 Bahrain Grand Prix.