Among the F1 Rookies, George Russell finished at the bottom of the standings. The 2018 Formula 2 Champion did not score a single point in 2019. The only driver on the grid to do so. He consistently outperformed his teammate Robert Kubica, but the struggling Williams meant, no one could judge his true race pace. Yet Russell is confident he can have a good career in Formula One, in spite of successes felt by fellow rookies, Lando Norris and Alex Albon.
Despite a difficult first season, Russell is upbeat. He believes everyone in the Mercedes garage knows his true pace. They know that he was the 2018 Formula Two champion, beating Norris and Albon who finished 2nd and 3rd respectively. Norris finished a full 68 points behind Russell in the championship. Albon was a further 7 points adrift of Norris.
George Russell in Formula One
Russell is the 3rd driver from Mercedes’ junior driver program to make it to Formula One. Unlike his predecessors, he remains with the team’s program. Despite his tiresome year with an ailing Williams team, he has shown some pace in a Mercedes. He has driven one of the factory Mercedes cars on tests, including the post-season testing after the season finale. There his times were far better than what he could normally post.
However, he’s pleased with the good performances made by his friends, Norris and Albon. While at a personal level he’s undoubtedly happy, Russell believes there are gains for him professionally as well. Their good performances in Formula One, coupled with the fact that Russell beat them in Formula Two can indicate there’s a lot more to come from the British youngster.
In his belief, if the other two had disappointing campaigns, it would have adversely affected the possible perception of Russell. When speaking to MotorsportWeek, he commented:
“If they were doing a bad job it probably wouldn’t give the same sort of credit to what I did in F2.”
It’s that confidence and belief that he has more to offer is one possible reason why Mercedes continue to back George Russell. He’s comparing his stint in motorsports to Charles Leclerc. Both won GP3 and Formula 2 in consecutive years before jumping to Formula One. Leclerc a year after Formula One, made a switch to Ferrari. Russell will still be in a Williams car in his second season. But if he gets more opportunities to test with the main Mercedes team, his prospects surely would improve.
It’s left to see if he can impress enough with Williams in 2020 to warrant a seat at a faster team in the near future. Then we might see the true competitive nature of George Russell.
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