Formula 1 world champion Nico Rosberg has praised George Russell for his impressive start to life at Mercedes, despite the team’s struggles.
Russell made the long-awaited shift to Mercedes this year after three seasons at Williams, proving that he was consistently a fast racer, despite getting dull cars to drive.
It was thought that the 24-year-old would finally be able to fully show what he could on the team that has won the last eight constructor titles, but Mercedes has struggled to adapt to the new F1 rules by 2022.
As a result, both Russell and team-mate Sir Lewis Hamilton are struggling to perform in the W13 car and are far behind their main rivals at Ferrari and Red Bull.
But Rosberg, who won the 2016 title at Mercedes, is still impressed with what the young Briton has done, telling Sky Sports: ‘For George, it will be a big disappointment because he went into the season and thought he would be able to. to compete for race victories, maybe even a championship, so this is a big setback for him.
Nevertheless, he is still very young and for him there is still this huge opportunity to beat the best ever with the same car [Hamilton] – it does not matter where they are in the end.
“And it’s so important for George, to be very close to Lewis, to beat him as much as possible, because it will really dictate how the rest of his career will go if Mercedes keeps him and stuff like that.”
Russell is currently number four in the standings, 37 points from leader Charles Leclerc, but he is the only rider on the net to finish in the top five in each race so far this season.
He achieved a very good fourth place in last Sunday’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix and consistently performed better than Hamilton throughout the weekend.
“You have to say he has done so excellently all weekend at Imola, which is the first time this year that he has really dominated Lewis,” Rosberg added.
‘We really overlook it because of where they are, but we have to see that he has been four tenths faster than Lewis all weekend and in front of him all weekend, which is really a great job by George.
‘This is the first time we’re really seeing a potential world championship level for driving from him.
‘It was very risky to replace [Valtteri] Bottas with George because he was such an unknown. But we can already say that it was an excellent choice.
‘George has been so mature that he has delivered the maximum points possible with this car. So it has been a good choice for Mercedes. ‘
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