For the first time in his F1 career, George Russell will be driving a car capable of competing at the sharp end of the field at this weekend’s Sakhir Grand Prix.
Russell, who was called up by Mercedes at short notice after Lewis Hamilton tested positive for COVID-19 earlier in the week, has said that no one can replace the seven-time World Champion, but he’ll unquestionably be looking to have a strong weekend to make his case for a 2022 Silver Arrows seat.
Speaking to Formula1News.co.uk, ex-F1 driver Marc Surer said he is “very happy that Russell has made it into a top car” after spending the entirety of his career in the pinnacle of motorsport with the ailing Williams team.
Surer added that he is confident that Russell “will be immediately quick” at the helm of Hamilton’s Mercedes W11, but he suggested that the team will “take care” of Valtteri Bottas to make sure that the young Brit doesn’t show him up.
“I’m not too worried that he will, let’s say, make Bottas look bad. I think the team will take care of Bottas.
“Bottas had two bad races, now I think they need to support him and I’m sure the team can control that so that it doesn’t be a disaster for Bottas as they’ve already signed him for next year,” Surer told this publication.
Continuing, he said: “So I think Russell will do well, he will be close to Bottas, but I think the team will take care [to make sure] he doesn’t look too good.”
Earlier in the week, former F1 driver and Sky F1 pundit Paul di Resta said he believes George Russell could “very easily qualify in P1” at the Sakhir GP.
Free Practice One (FP1) will get underway later today and will provide an early indication of how Russell is faring in the Mercedes, though it’s likely his pace will improve relative to Bottas over the course of the weekend as he gets to grips with the car.
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