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George Russell

Russell tipped to make life 'very difficult' for Hamilton

Max Verstappen reckons George Russell would make life "very difficult" for Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes in 2022, should his promotion be realised and the British pair become teammates.

Russell Hamilton Spa Belgium 2021
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To news overview © Mercedes

George Russell has been tipped to make life "very difficult" for Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes in 2022, if his anticipated promotion is realised.

RacingNews365.com understands that Russell has been given the nod by Mercedes to step up from Williams and replace Valtteri Bottas as Hamilton's teammate for next season, with the news yet to be confirmed.

Speaking ahead of the Dutch Grand Prix, Max Verstappen praised Russell's performance at last weekend's Belgian Grand Prix, where the Briton qualified his Williams second on the grid, ahead of Hamilton, and his eye-catching stand-in performance for Mercedes in Sakhir in 2020.

"Yeah, if he joins [Mercedes], for sure he will make it very difficult for Lewis," Verstappen told media, including RacingNews365.com, at Zandvoort on Thursday.

"He jumped into the car in Bahrain and basically he was already, from lap one, making it very difficult for Valtteri. So you can only imagine the more experience you gain in that car, and the more you get accustomed within the team, naturally you're going to become faster.

"When you do your first race, you are guided by the team about setup direction, because you just don't know what to do, really, initially, with the car. I remember my first race at Red Bull [in 2016], the thing I said, 'Well, we'll just follow a bit what Daniel [Ricciardo] is doing, because I have no clue about how this car needs to go quick'. Even though F1 cars look pretty similar, the way of setting them up can be very different.

"Already you can see the performance he did at Spa was really good. Of course, they set up the car a bit more for wet conditions, but nevertheless, to do that in a Williams was very impressive. So I do expect him to do very well if he gets that seat."

Russell's current teammate, Nicholas Latifi, was also full of compliments as he offered his perspective on the situation.

"Obviously being teammate with him, I know first-hand how quick he is," Latifi commented.

"To the public, [his] Saturday performances are quite standout, and I see from behind-the-scenes on the data how quick he is exactly in those scenarios. His ability to put everything together in that crucial moment, on that lap that counts, is very impressive.

"But even besides the 'Mr Saturday' tag, he does a lot of things outside of qualifying. He manages little details in the race, and there are a lot of peripheral things he's very, very strong at, so it's quite impressive.

"If he does go to Mercedes, we already saw what he was capable of doing in Bahrain last year, so I have no doubt he will be on the pace straight away."

Ferrari's Charles Leclerc offered some additional words of support for his former karting teammate.

"I've actually been team-mates with George for a year in karting and I think, what I've seen of him since that time, is that he's extremely talented," said Leclerc.

"Every time he got into a kart back then, or in a car now, he's just quick straight away. His talent makes him special.

"If he goes to Mercedes next year, and I hope he does, because I think he deserves a chance there, I'm pretty sure he will perform very, very well and impress more than one person."

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