Melbourne, April 15 (IANS) George Russell currently sits in second place in the drivers’ championship after capturing his first podium finish as a Mercedes driver at the Australian Grand Prix.
And in the aftermath of this achievement, his seven-time world champion teammate Lewis Hamilton was full of praise for Russell’s performance so far this season.
Russell finished in third ahead of Hamilton at Albert Park, the result coming on the back of fourth and fifth-place finishes in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia respectively. And Hamilton said his new teammate had been doing an “amazing job”, both in Australia and more generally in his first races as a Mercedes driver proper.
“It’s incredible, he’s done an amazing job. He did an amazing job today, had great pace, he’s been so solid these first three races. He’s working and really grafting away; he’s doing an amazing job,” Hamilton was quoted as saying by Formula1.com.
Despite Russell’s strong start to the season and Mercedes also sitting in second place in the constructors’ championship, the Silver Arrows have fallen short of their usual dominant form so far this season. But while Hamilton expects Ferrari and Red Bull to improve, he said he was “optimistic” that his team can get to the top this season.
“I prefer to stay optimistic. There are 20 races to go. If you think realistically with the way our sport goes in terms of everyone’s development… the top teams often develop at a similar pace, a similar rate. Will that be the case with this new car? Who knows, but I am really, really hopeful we can get in the fight soon. And yes, the gap is pretty big right now but there is a long way to go,” he said.
Mercedes finished as the lead constructor in Australia, even though Russell admitted they were the fifth best team most of the race weekend. And ahead of the next race in Imola, Hamilton said the team would “leave no stone unturned” as they plot their route back to the top.
“We’ve got some improvements that we need to make, and we need everyone’s support in doing so. Just making sure we leave no stone unturned, and we are maximising absolutely every moment,” said Hamilton.
“There is performance to be gained in areas that we know – and we need it now, not in two or three races… As a team, we’ve just got to keep up that encouragement, keep that energy high. I’ll be on the simulator in preparation for the next race.”