Newly appointed Williams Team Principal Jost Capito believes there are more than a few similarities between George Russell and a young Kimi Raikkonen. Capito, also CEO of Williams, worked for Sauber between 1996 and 2001 and was the team's Chief Operating Officer at the time when the team signed the unknown rookie Raikkonen.
With the inexperienced Finn immediately proving himself to be one of Formula 1's hottest talents, Capito believes there are big parallels between his career and that of George Russell.
“There is a lot in George, I see a lot [of] what I’ve seen in Kimi,” Capito said on F1’s Beyond The Grid podcast. “His driving is brilliant.”
“I believed in [Raikkonen] from the first time, when I had discussions with his managers I knew.
“When he came the first time to Hinwil [Sauber’s base], I think looking in his eyes I knew he is the guy you have to keep.
“With Kimi it was clear he would be exceptional. I had this feeling right from the beginning.”
Capito is in a slightly different position with Russell, given that the British driver is now in his third season and is becoming an experienced hand as a racer.
"Compared to Kimi, it’s George’s third season, compared to Kimi, when I was there it was his first season. So, for sure it’s different," Capito told select members of the media, including RacingNews365, in Austria.
"I’m still impressed by George. Even though the expectations were high, especially after last year and I think he fully delivers according to the expectations and, with all the things that’s going around him with his contract for next year and where he’s driving, I am very impressed how cool he takes it and how relaxed he is with that situation and how it doesn’t touch him.
So, he’s fully focussed and he’s working well with the team. This is very impressive as well: how he works with the team, how he motivates the team.
"Every Tuesday we have a town hall, where we inform the whole company, everybody dials in, and is informed about the last weekend, and George dialled in on Tuesday and talks to the team. He takes his time to be with the team.
"He goes to the factory and the gym and he’s very close to the team and I think that is one of his strengths – because they all love him and they all work… everybody works very hard for him."