George Russell’s standout performance in the penultimate race of the 2020 F1 season in Bahrain reignited the debate about to what extent Lewis Hamilton’s success in the turbo hybrid era of Formula One is down to Mercedes’ dominance.
Some F1 fans argued that Russell’s ability to jump into the Mercedes W11 and immediately be on Valtteri Bottas’ pace and lead most of the Sakhir Grand Prix suggests that Hamilton wouldn’t be nearly as successful if he had a stronger team-mate.
Giving his take on Russell’s performance with the Silver Arrows in Bahrain, Daniel Ricciardo said he believes it showed that the young Brit is the “real deal” despite bad luck costing him victory.
“It’s hard to know how good they are until they step up towards the front of the grid – not only to see if they are fast enough but also if they can handle the pressure of being up at the front,” Ricciardo said on the In The Fast Lane podcast.
“George didn’t need to get pole [in Bahrain] to kind of prove he’s got the talent, but he was so close.
“I think the more impressive thing for him was to get a good start, get into the lead and control a big part of that race. That’s where he really earned his stripes.
“I think he proved that yes, the car is amazing and whatnot, but he proved he is certainly the real deal. He’s one of those younger kids that I think has now proven himself,” the Aussie, who will join McLaren next year, added.