Team chief Toto Wolff hailed George Russell as a brand new star on Monday after his storming drive for Mercedes in Sunday’s Sakhir Grand Prix, whereas rival drivers mentioned he had uncovered Formula One’s want for a extra degree taking part in subject. Mercedes boss Wolff mentioned the 22-year-old Briton, launched by struggling Williams to face in for Covid-19 sufferer seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton, had exceeded expectations with a refined private efficiency all through the weekend. Russell mentioned he was “gutted” after ending ninth, having gave the impression to be set for victory earlier than a uncommon bungled pit cease and a late puncture gave Racing Point’s Sergio Perez his maiden win in his 190th race.
“It won’t have been his last attempt for victory,” mentioned Wolff. “It’s just the beginning of a fairy tale that didn’t work out today. I would say that a new star has been born!”
While Russell deserved acclaim from Wolff, others identified that he was not the one driver whose expertise was hidden by equipment that was uncompetitive.
“It’s a shame that a guy that is fighting for P15 every weekend, suddenly when you put him in a race-winning car, he’s 20-thousandths off pole,” mentioned McLaren’s Ferrari-bound Carlos Sainz.
“If anything, for me, this demonstrates what F1 is missing — creating a much more incredible show if you could level the playing field and allow the driver to make more of a difference.
“At the second, when you’re one second off the tempo, or two seconds off the tempo, you can’t actually see the final two-tenths from a driver that makes a distinction.”
His team-mate Lando Norris agreed, saying “a variety of drivers might do one thing comparable” in a Mercedes, but he added that champion Hamilton had additional qualities.
‘Need a Mercedes’
“We can all drive vehicles extraordinarily shortly and perhaps it is only a automotive that fits George and doubtless fits a variety of different drivers as nicely,” he said.
“If you need to win a championship, you might want to be in a Mercedes. So, I feel a variety of drivers might, at some races, deliver the combat to Valtteri (Bottas) or deliver a combat to Lewis (Hamilton).
“But there’s a lot of traits which Lewis has, like his consistency to be on pole the majority of the weekends and have flawless races, without mistakes — those are his impressive traits.”
He added that he anticipated a unique sort of race at Abu Dhabi’s season-ending occasion this week.
“I think maybe you’ll see a slightly different story. This (Sakhir) is a track with four corners. If there’s a track where it’s a bit easier for a driver to jump into a new car and do something special, it’s probably here.”
Wolff mentioned Russell, who scored his first F1 factors after two seasons with Williams, had delivered above expectations.
“He did that on Friday, he did it on Saturday in qualifying and his race was incredible. It’s not a sad day. It’s a day when we learned as a team. We have learned that Russell is someone we can count on in the future. He has the potential and all the ingredients a future star needs.”
Wolff added that it was not practical to recommend Russell had earned a spot alongside Hamilton for subsequent season.
“He is a Williams driver, he is signed up to Williams and our driver line-up is Valtteri and Lewis,” mentioned Wolff on Sunday. “So, I don’t see this as a realistic situation at this moment in time.
“I can perceive that it will be an attention-grabbing state of affairs to have them each within the staff and a little bit of a wild trip for all of us – however, perhaps, we can have that sooner or later.”
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