George Russell has suggested that his tough experiences with Williams may be helping him get the best out of his faltering Mercedes while Lewis Hamilton struggles to keep up. The youngster, who was expected to trail his veteran team-mate this season, is already 21 points ahead after four race weekends.
This season would have been torrid enough for Hamilton with Mercedes’ downward spiral in terms of pace and performance. But it has been made even worse, at least on an individual level, by Russell’s relative success.
The seven-time world champion was expected to take his fresh-faced partner to the cleaners after stepping up from Williams, who languished towards the back of the grid during his three-year stint. But Russell put on another impressive display last time out at Imola to claim fourth spot, while Hamilton wound up a dismal P13.
“It’s just been difficult, really difficult position for us as a team,” said Russell, “Perhaps with my struggles at Williams driving very difficult cars, maybe that’s helped in some small regard. And it’s Q1 and Q2 now for us is massively important whereas previously for Mercedes that was a breeze, it was almost like a build-up session getting ready for Q3.
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“Lewis is going to come back incredibly strong, I have no doubt. He’s definitely going to push me all the way. I think in terms of results we’re definitely getting the most out of it and things have definitely fell our way in these first four races.
“It gives me and I’m sure it gives the team confidence that when the car improves, we’ll be there to get even more points on the board. But as I said before this weekend, we can’t sustain this level of these results if we’re in the pace where we are.”
“I can see Lewis getting disillusioned,” he told the Mail on Sunday, “The grind of being a Grand Prix driver becomes significantly harder when the car is not good. And for Lewis, given his age and the whippersnappers coming through, every year will be more and more difficult.
“The important thing is to know when to get out. Has he stayed a season too long? I think he will take until Silverstone to see if he is back at the races and getting podiums. There is a lot to weigh up.”