Lewis Hamilton says George Russell has settled in well as Valtteri Bottas' replacement at Mercedes during his impressive first three races with the team. After claiming his first podium for the Silver Arrows at the Australian Grand Prix, Russell moved into second in the World Championship standings, behind only runaway leader Charles Leclerc. The 24-year-old has demonstrated consistent pace so far this season, despite Mercedes' struggles, and finished ahead of Hamilton in both Saudi Arabia and Australia. But it is the ease at which he has settled in at Mercedes that has impressed Hamilton most, who has joked that he was happy to see the back of Bottas. "It's good to be with someone younger, you know? I was just saying earlier how old Valtteri is! He's got an old soul," he told media, including RacingNews365.com , with a laugh, well aware that Valtteri was listening in. Bottas quipped back: "You're older than me, man!"
Hamilton full of praise for his teammates
Hamilton and Bottas finished 1-2 in 22 races during their four years together as teammates, cementing their place as one of F1's most successful pairings. Throughout it all, they remained civil with little controversy in comparison to Hamilton's earlier fight with former teammate Nico Rosberg. For now, Russell's spell as Hamilton's teammate shows no sign of turning sour with the two drivers bonding well off track. "It was obviously an amazing journey that Valtteri and I had, working together, and George was already a part of the team before that, so he's blended in really well," Hamilton continued. "I think George has been great, I think he's been great for the team. We were surfing the other day together [and] he's blended really well into the team."
Hamilton laughs off Villeneuve's Russell theory
With Russell now ahead of Hamilton in the standings - albeit by just five points - interest will build over whether Mercedes' seven-time World Champion can stamp his authority. Speaking ahead of the Australian GP, 1997 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve suggested that Russell was "coping better" with the struggling Mercedes W13, with Hamilton having previously driven only "perfect" cars. "I find it amusing, some of the things that come out of his mouth," said Hamilton, in response. "I remember my first go-kart was fifth-hand. I've driven lots of different cars and found myself relatively adaptable, so I should be good."
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