George Russell has been praised for doing an “absolutely blinding job” as Lewis Hamilton’s new teammate at Mercedes, after making the move from Williams.
Despite Mercedes’ relative struggles, Russell is the only driver to have finished in the top five positions at every race so far this season – including his first podium finish with the team in Australia – and holds 49 points to Hamilton’s 28.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with RacingNews365.com, five-time Grand Prix winner John Watson took a moment to recognise Russell’s performances in 2022.
Watson recognises Russell’s efforts on and off the track
Not only has Russell impressed Watson with his results on the track, but also in terms of how the 24-year-old is conducting himself off it.
“I think you can’t state highly enough what he has done in the first four races,” Watson told RacingNews365.com.
“I think the way he’s conducted himself within the team and within the media… he’s not standing in the front and taking the limelight, he’s respecting Lewis’ legacy.
“At the same time, he’s doing an absolutely blinding job, and his drive [at Imola] on Sunday was an outstanding drive.”
What about the gap between Russell and Hamilton at Imola?
Alongside his praise for Russell, Watson reckons Hamilton’s difficult weekend at Imola – and the gap between the two Mercedes drivers – has been blown up.
Hamilton spent the majority of his race stuck behind the AlphaTauri of Pierre Gasly, with overtaking at a premium, even when the Drag Reduction System (DRS) was activated midway through.
“Had the circumstances been the other way around, would George have done a better job than Lewis behind Gasly or not? I suspect probably not,” Watson added.
“George had a very good first lap and gained positions, and found himself in a much easier situation than Lewis. Lewis found himself bogged down in the middle of cars; he’s got cars around him, behind him, on top of him…
“If that had been in last year’s car, as we saw [in the Sprint race] in Brazil, he would have picked them off, but he’s not on that car. He hasn’t got that advantage over his competitors that he had in 2021.”