George Russell is fourth in the championship, 21 points and three places ahead of Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton after four rounds; but he says: “I’m not getting comfortable in this position because I know what he’s capable of.”
By Matt Morlidge
Last Updated: 02/05/22 6:09am
George Russell says he has “no doubts” Lewis Hamilton will “come back stronger” this season, backing his Mercedes team-mate after a difficult start and praising his “truly inspiring” work behind the scenes.
Amid Mercedes’ unexpected struggles through the first four rounds of 2022, it has been newcomer Russell and not seven-time champion Hamilton who has got more out of the W13 car.
Russell, who made the step up from Williams this season, is currently fourth in the championship, 21 points and three places ahead of Hamilton.
But just as Mercedes and Hamilton himself are insistent that F1’s most successful driver will bounce back, Russell also sees no reason to worry.
“Lewis has clearly got the pace,” Russell told Sky Sports F1. “He’s incredibly fast and he’s showed that so far this year, but it’s just been tricky for us as a team to get it done when the time is needed.
“When things have been more stable, Lewis has still been massively fast.
“I know there was a bit of a blip last weekend but I have no doubt he’s going to come back and the way he’s pushing the team and motivating the team is truly inspiring.
“We all want more. He wants more. Nobody is happy with the position we’re in currently.”
Why is Russell ahead of Hamilton? Russell: I’m not getting comfortable
Russell finished fourth at the Emilia Romagna GP while Hamilton came home a point-less 13th. But Russell put the difference down to his strong start to Sunday’s race and a car that was a “nightmare to drive”.
“We are equally struggling,” added Russell. “When the car is so far out of bed and it’s not in the right window, it doesn’t really feel like a proper racing car to drive.”
Expanding on why he was possibly faring better, Russell said: “Perhaps with my struggles at Williams, with very difficult cars, maybe that’s helped in some small regard.
“But Lewis will come back stronger, I have no doubt. He’s definitely going to be pushing me all the way.
“I’m not getting comfortable in this position because I know what he’s capable of.”
Wolff praises Russell for strong start | ‘We have two of best three drivers’
For Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, Russell’s impressive start to the season has repaid the faith he put in the British youngster from his junior career, having brought him through to F1 and then to Mercedes full-time.
“I’m very impressed with how he’s settled in,” said Wolff. “How professionally and analytically he is helps us to assess the situation.
“The combination [of Russell and Hamilton], that’s one of the very few highlights I have at the moment on our journey – how the two of them work together with no friction. On the contrary, it is very, very productive and positive for the team and I couldn’t be happier with the driver line-up.
“We have two of maybe the three best drivers and they deserve a car and a power unit that makes them fight in the front rather than being lapped. That’s not what any of them deserves.”
The Formula 1 2022 season continues with the inaugural Miami Grand Prix this weekend, all live on Sky Sports F1. A trip Stateside means later starts, and the race starts at 8.30pm on Sunday night.