Sunday, December 5News That Matters

F1: George Russell’s talent is ‘very close’ to Lewis Hamiltons’ according to Williams boss

George Russell‘s potential as a Formula One driver has been compared to Lewis Hamilton by a Williams colleague who helped the seven-time world champion through his early days at McLaren.

Dave Robson is the current head of vehicle performance at Williams where the 23-year-old has been impressing in his previous three seasons with the team.

Russell, though, has a contract with Mercedes, who this season are hoping Hamilton can win the team an eighth consecutive drivers’ title, which would also be an eighth overall for the Brit, taking him past record holder Michael Schumacher.

George Russell has impressed at Williams despite running at the back of the grid for the team

George Russell has impressed at Williams despite running at the back of the grid for the team

George Russell has impressed at Williams despite running at the back of the grid for the team

Russell had a chance to drive for Mercedes last year in place of Hamilton after he contracted coronavirus and was highly unfortunate not to win the Sakhir Grand Prix after team errors outside of his control robbed him of victory. 

Now Robson believes the potential is in Russell to follow in the footsteps of Hamilton at the Silver Arrows having first met the King’s Lynn-born driver before his first F1 season in 2019. 

‘I think there are definitely some similarities there,’ Robson was quoted at motorsport.com.

Russell (front) has outperformed his F1 team-mates and has been tipped for the top

Russell (front) has outperformed his F1 team-mates and has been tipped for the top

Russell (front) has outperformed his F1 team-mates and has been tipped for the top

The Kings Lynn-born star, who has a contract with Mercedes, has seen his talents compared with seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton (right) who drives for the Silver Arrows

The Kings Lynn-born star, who has a contract with Mercedes, has seen his talents compared with seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton (right) who drives for the Silver Arrows

The Kings Lynn-born star, who has a contract with Mercedes, has seen his talents compared with seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton (right) who drives for the Silver Arrows

‘And they were obvious from the first time I met George and we ran him in the simulator in Grove. Then we went up and run him around the airfield in a road car.

‘Again, there was something. There was something there. I think the talent is there. I think he is very close to Lewis and has the potential to get there. For sure.’

Robson had previously worked with Hamilton when he was a junior driver at McLaren prior to his stunning debut season in 2007 where he missed out on winning the title at the final race before landing his first crown a year later.

He described how even as a rookie driver he stood apart from his peers by having a ‘special quality’.

Standing in for Hamilton at last year's Sakhir Grand Prix he was unfortunate not to win the race

Standing in for Hamilton at last year's Sakhir Grand Prix he was unfortunate not to win the race

Standing in for Hamilton at last year’s Sakhir Grand Prix he was unfortunate not to win the race

‘There is just that something about him,’ he added. ‘That special quality that you can’t really define. That was obvious right from when he was just a kid and [McLaren] took him testing at Elvington [airfield, for a straight-line aerodynamic test run] – going up and down the runway.

‘He was bored stiff after 10 minutes. Whereas most kids, when you take took them to Elvington, they were just chuffed to bits to be in an F1 car – even though they were just going up and down the runway.’

Along with Russell, Hamilton will be back in action next Sunday for the Monaco Grand Prix where the championship leader will be looking for a third straight win and a fourth in five races as he continues to battle Red Bull’s Max Verstappen for the title.