Former F1 driver Pedro de la Rosa has heaped praise on George Russell for the way the Briton has consistently matched and occasionally bettered Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton.
The younger Briton finished two places ahead of Hamilton in last weekend's Miami Grand Prix, prompting de la Rosa to talk up Russell's efforts at Mercedes so far.
"What he was doing in a very difficult car last year, I was shocked," de la Rosa told the F1 Nation podcast.
"I thought it would take him a while to get to the speed of Lewis and he was straight on in a very difficult car, a bouncy car.
"And this year, again. It's incredible. [Miami] was a very tough race for the drivers. It was hot and humid, difficult, but also it was very difficult to manage the tyres through the race, so that was really impressive how he did it."
Joining Mercedes at the beginning of 2022 after three years in an uncompetitive Williams, some observers had questioned Russell's ability to get on terms with seven-time World Champion Hamilton, who had convincingly outscored previous teammate Valtteri Bottas in each of their five seasons as partners.
However, Russell not only outscored Hamilton by 275 points to 240 in 2022, he also took Mercedes' only win of a troubled season, in which the team's W13 challenger struggled badly with bouncing and porpoising.
So far in 2023, Russell currently trails Hamilton in the Drivers' standings by 56 points to 40, though that discrepancy is partly explained by Russell having suffered an engine failure in the Australian Grand Prix, in which Hamilton ultimately finished second.
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During his time at Williams, Russell had gained a reputation as a qualifying specialist, frequently outpacing faster cars, and de la Rosa said that Russell's expertise is now showing on race day too.
"More importantly than out-qualifying [Hamilton], I think that in some races he's even faster on race pace," de la Rosa added.
"They are very evenly matched, and this is the beauty about these two drivers, and especially about George, because I think no one ever expected him to be this strong, this mature.
"Whenever he talks on the radio, he has this capability of reading the race which not many drivers have, and they are the ones that make the difference."
Balve Bains is joined by RacingNews365.com Editorial Director Dieter Rencken and Asia Correspondent Michael Butterworth to dissect the key talking points from the Miami Grand Prix.