Lewis Hamilton has heaped praise on George Russell, ahead of the pair joining forces as Mercedes teammates in 2022, and expects the younger Briton to "bring the heat" to the team with his speed and potential.
Russell will replace Valtteri Bottas as Hamilton's teammate next season after impressing with Williams over three campaigns, and during a stand-in performance for Mercedes at last year's Sakhir Grand Prix.
Speaking to media, including RacingNews365.com, ahead of this weekend's Italian Grand Prix at Monza, Hamilton made clear just how highly he rates former GP3 and Formula 2 champion Russell.
"I've watched George come through GP3, GP2 [F2], and I've watched a lot of the racing that he's done, the moves that he's done," said Hamilton. "There's no doubt that he's incredibly talented.
"He's going to continue to get stronger, even in these next nine races, and next year he'll be bringing the heat, for sure!"
Hamilton reckons Russell, 23, will have a positive impact when he joins the Mercedes operation, tipping him to "energise the whole team".
"I think the young talent that's coming through is so great for the sport, and it's the future of the sport," said Hamilton, 36.
"I think new, fresh blood in our team is gonna be great. I think that definitely will energise the whole team.
"A new youngster coming through, who is super hungry, driven and will be pushing forward."
Asked if he expects to be pushed harder by Russell, compared to current teammate Bottas, Hamilton commented: "I can't say that he's gonna be faster than Valtteri or slower than him, [as] I've not raced against him.
"[But] I'm sure that he's gonna be very fast."