George Russell: David Coulthard says new Mercedes driver ‘can match Hamilton’s speed’

George Russell for Mercedes

Williams driver George Russell has officially signed a blockbuster deal with Mercedes-Benz ahead of the 2022 season.

The 23-year-old will replace Valtteri Bottas, who is due to make the switch to Alfa Romeo at the end of this Formula 1 campaign.

Racing legend David Coulthard already has high hopes for Russell behind the wheel of the Mercedes car after his impressive run out at the Sakhir Grand Prix in 2020.

"I think George Russell is the real deal," the former McLaren star said. "He’s a coming talent, he showed what he can do when he was in the car in Bahrain.

"No disrespect to Valtteri [Bottas], who’s a very fast racing driver and Grand Prix winner, but sport is about momentum and whether it’s motor racing or football or whatever sport you’re following, there’s a time when talent needs to be given an opportunity and I’ve no doubt he [Russell] has got all the skills to deliver."

George Russell

Russell has been with the Williams brand since 2019 but has also been enrolled onto the Mercedes Young Driver programme.

The rising star earned his first F1 career points when he stepped in for Lewis Hamilton at Bahrain in the Sakhir GP last season. After starting in P2 on the grid, Russell went on to finish ninth despite a series of issues with his car throughout the race.

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After bettering Hamilton's time in a wet qualifying session for the the Belgian Grand Prix, Russell earned his first podium place at Spa-Francorchamps, finishing ahead of the seven-time championship winner.  

Though it must be said no racing laps were actually held thanks to the torrid conditions that weekend.

George Russell

Coulthard went on to discuss the upcoming in-house competition between Hamilton and Russell.

"He really needs to be alert because he's not going to beat Lewis purely through speed. Lewis is one of, if not the fastest driver of the last decade but I believe George has a talent to match that speed."

The 13-time Grand Prix winner also praised Russell's "passion behind the wheel" – something the 2021 Formula 1 season is seeing a lot of from the younger drivers.

Russell's switch to Mercedes was a move made by Toto Wolff to prepare for Hamilton's eventual retirement from the sport.

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