George Russell backtracks on Max Verstappen comment

Mercedes driver George Russell has backtracked on a comment he made about Red Bull ace Max Verstappen.

George Russell recently backtracked on a comment he made about Max Verstappen, whilst discussing the 2021 season.

It was in 2021, of course, where Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton entered the season finale in Abu Dhabi level on points, only for the championship to be decided by a poor call from ex-race director Michael Masi.

Masi brought a late Safety Car back into the pits a lap earlier than he should’ve done, something which set up a last-lap battle between Verstappen and Hamilton for the title.

Verstappen ultimately overtook Hamilton on the last lap to claim his maiden crown, although the FIA later noted that Masi had made a ‘human error’.

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Had it not been for Masi’s error, then Hamilton would’ve claimed an unprecedented eighth Drivers’ Championship, having led almost the entirety of the race.

When discussing that a superior team can be caught during a single off-season, Russell used the example of 2020 and 2021.

In 2020, Mercedes had one of the greatest F1 cars ever built, only for Red Bull to design a better overall package for 2021.

Russell thinks this is proof that Red Bull’s current dominance could be ended.

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In regard to Verstappen, the 25-year-old initially stated that the Dutchman became World Champion in 2021, before backtracking and saying that there was “a battle” for the title.

“You’ve only got to rewind back to 2020, when Mercedes built one of the most competitive cars of all time,” Russell told Beyond The Grid.

“Then in 2021, Max won the Championship. Or at least there was a battle between Max and Lewis for the Championship.”

Regardless of the 2021 outcome, Red Bull proved that it was possible to end another team’s dominant reign following a single strong off-season, giving Russell hope that the same can happen in 2024.

He believes that there are five drivers on the grid who could win the championship if given the “best car”, with Hamilton being “one of those guys”.

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“I can very, very confidently say that there are five drivers on the grid who, if you put them in the best car, would win a Championship,” Russell added.

“I have no doubt about that. Of course, Lewis is one of those guys. If I’m going head-to-head with him every week, that gives me the benchmark.

“To see that I’m swimming and swimming well gives me so much confidence.

“That’s down to me being team-mates with Lewis and holding my own. Every single weekend I go out… Practice, quali, race – you are directly compared to the greatest driver of all time. I don’t think I’ve ever been pushed in my whole career like I’ve been pushed in this last year and a half.”