“I’m pretty sure he will show to the world his talent,” says Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc of friend and long-time racing rival George Russell after the Briton’s place next to Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes for 2022 was confirmed
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 09/09/21 6:00pm
Charles Leclerc can see parallels with George Russell’s arrival at Mercedes next to Lewis Hamilton to when he joined Ferrari as team-mate to Sebastian Vettel.
Russell was this week finally confirmed as a Mercedes driver for next season, when the 23-year-old will replace the long-serving Valtteri Bottas next to Hamilton after three promising seasons at Williams.
Two years ago and it was Leclerc, then 21, who arrived under the spotlight at Ferrari to partner a multiple world champion, Vettel, after an impressive debut year at Sauber. But despite the large experience gap, Leclerc thrived in his first season and outscored the four-time champion at the first attempt. Vettel’s contract was then not renewed for 2021.
As the most successful driver in the sport’s history with all the key records held outrght or jointly, Hamilton clearly represents the ultimate challenge for Russell. But, having gone up against one of the sport’s greats himself, Leclerc believes Russell, who he has raced against since the junior formula, will also show up well.
“This is a pretty similar situation to mine when I arrived in Ferrari with Seb by my side,” said Leclerc to Sky Sports F1.
“It’s a great position to be in.
“George is very talented and he’ll be next to one of the best in the history of this sport so he doesn’t have much to lose, which is a good position to be in. He can just give it everything and show his talent.
“I’m pretty sure he will show to the world his talent.”
The drivers’ verdicts: How will Russell fare against Hamilton?
Max Verstappen: “George will definitely show himself. He’s good enough for that.
Lando Norris: Here and there George can definitely beat him, for sure. But the run of the whole season taking into the experience part of it, that’s normally where Lewis is very good and the consistency every single weekend. I have faith in George.”
Fernando Alonso: Let’s see if George can put some extra pressure on Lewis. Valtteri was maybe not in a position to put pressure in the last two years so that will benefit the whole team if George is fast enough. But at the same time, Lewis is Lewis and has proved many times that pressure, no pressure, he can deliver the job when it’s needed. George is fast but Lewis is Lewis, so let’s see.”