Williams team boss Jost Capito has tipped George Russell to be able to compete with Max Verstappen ahead of the Briton's Mercedes debut.
After three seasons at Williams, Russell will join the Silver Arrows as teammate to Lewis Hamilton in 2022. From what he has seen so far of Russell during their time working together, Capito is not expecting him to be daunted by this new challenge.
"From his nerves of steel, he doesn't let himself get fazed, even if he wasn't at the same level at the beginning of the season," Capito told German media outlet RTL/ntv.
"[Russell is] so strong nerves-wise that he continues to develop, grows from the challenge and doesn't break."
Capito also thinks that Russell's prior experience with Mercedes - having been a part of the team's Young Driver Programme since 2017 - will be beneficial in his adaptation.
"He's been a Mercedes driver for years," Capito said.
"He's also someone who is very good in the simulator and uses it very well to develop himself. And he's been in the Mercedes simulator for a while now.
"He doesn't sit in the car and it's completely new to him; he'll have done thousands of miles with this car already in the simulator."
Russell a "completely different character" to Verstappen
Capito says that Russell has been preparing "so meticulously" fitness-wise for his first season with Mercedes that he should be at his highest level when the campaign begins.
"I think when he gets in the car for the first time he will be absolutely top of the game," Capito explained.
Russell's former boss is also looking forward to the "exciting" battle that could take place between Russell and new teammate Hamilton, which he believes will pose a challenge to the seven-time World Champion, should he not opt to walk away from the sport.
"He can't sit down and say, 'I'm sure I can beat him from the start'," Capito added.
It's not just Hamilton that the Williams Team Principal sees as Russell's competition, as he is also expecting the youngster to be able to go wheel-to-wheel with Verstappen, though admits that Russell is a "completely different character" to the Red Bull driver.
"In Formula 1 you don't need the same character to be fast," he said.
"I think he can fight with Max Verstappen, I'm convinced of that."
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