George Russell expecting Lewis Hamilton to come back ‘so strong’ for Mercedes
George Russell has backed his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton to come back “so strong” after the seven-time former World Champion endured a weekend to forget at Imola.
Hamilton’s 2022 misfortunes continued at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix when he crossed the line P13 – only the second time since 2013 the Briton has finished outside of the points.
After the race, Toto Wolff went on the team radio to apologise to Hamilton and described the car as “undriveable”, but the former World Champion’s race was in stark contrast to his team-mate George Russell.
The Mercedes rookie started excellently to jump five places in the first lap before eventually securing fourth place – the third time this season he has finished ahead of Hamilton.
Despite this start, Russell is not getting ahead of himself and predicted Hamilton will bounce back sooner rather than later.
“I think it’s just how things fall sometimes on a race weekend,” he said, as reported by Autosport.
“I made a very strong start. I don’t know what happened with him (Hamilton) at the start, but we are equally struggling and when the car is so far out of bed and it’s not in the right window, it doesn’t really feel like a proper racing car to drive.
“And especially we are struggling with the tyre warm-up. Friday was 13 degrees and it was just a nightmare to drive.
“I expect him to come back so strong, and the way he’s pushing and motivating the team is inspiring.
“I’m not getting comfortable with this position because I know what he’s capable of.”
One possible explanation as to why Russell has so far fared better than Hamilton would have been the recent history of the two drivers entering into the season.
Hamilton had just missed out on a record-breaking eighth world title but was used to driving cars capable of fighting for the championship, while Russell was coming from Williams and well versed in squeezing the most from a poor-performing car.
“It’s just been a really difficult position for us as a team and perhaps with my struggles at Williams driving very difficult cars, maybe that’s helped in some small regard,” Russell went on to say.
“Q1 and Q2 for us now is massively important, whereas previously for Mercedes that was a breeze – it was almost like a build-up session getting ready for Q3.
“In terms of results we are definitely getting the most out of it and things have definitely fallen our way in these first four races.
“It gives me, and I’m sure it gives the team, confidence that when the car improves we’ll be there to get even more points on the board.
“But as I said before this weekend, we can’t sustain this level of these results if we don’t improve the pace of the car.”
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