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Hakkinen hails Russell win – It's the first of many!

Mika Hakkinen is the latest name to pay tribute to George Russell, after the Briton broke his F1 duck at the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Former WorldChampion Mika Hakkinen has hailed George Russell’s 'perfect' performance in hismaiden win at Sunday's Brazilian Grand Prix, saying the Briton's victory willbe the first of many. Having overtakenMax Verstappen to finish first in Saturday's Sprint race, Russell repeated thetrick on Sunday with a victory in which he was never trulythreatened at the front. Russell alsodealt with the pressure of two Safety Car restarts with relative ease, and Hakkinentalked up the consummate nature of the Briton's performance. "The racing wasbrilliant this weekend and George really deserves the win after putting in sucha strong performance," Hakkinen told Unibet. "He was thequickest Mercedes driver in Friday qualifying, then won Saturday's Sprint racein a very impressive way. "To be clear, hedrove a perfect Grand Prix on Sunday – made a fantastic start, opened up a gapand did not allow Safety Car periods to interfere with his confidence. "He had quite alot of pressure to deal with, especially when Lewis Hamilton came to within 1.5seconds of him, but he managed his lead perfectly."

Russell 'full of motivation', says Hakkinen

Hakkinen, who won 20 Grands Prix and two World Championship titles across a ten-year stint in F1, added that Russell's win was the first of many, referencing the Briton's early F1 days in uncompetitive machinery. "This feels like the first of many wins for George. He is at the right moment in his career, still only 24 and full of motivation," said Hakkinen. "He did three years at Williams, learning F1 in a less competitive car, and he very nearly won his debut race for Mercedes when Lewis [Hamilton] missed the Sakhir Grand Prix [due to COVID] in 2020. "He has had to wait until this weekend to have a competitive car again, but as soon as he had the right equipment he delivered the win." Having been off the pace at the beginning of the season as they struggled with bouncing and porpoising issues, Mercedes have closed the gap to the front of the field throughout 2022, and Hakkinen said the Silver Arrows' return to form in Brazil laid the foundations for a stronger future ahead. "One of the most impressive things to watch this year has been Mercedes' recovery," said Hakkinen. "Their car was not working well at all during the first half of the season, but they never gave up and have developed it to the point where, in Brazil this weekend, it was very competitive. "That's important for them, but also for Formula 1, because it means that Mercedes has understood the issues with this year's car and should be much stronger in 2023."

RESULTS 2024 F1 pre-season testing - Day 2