Nico Rosberg has praised George Russell’s excellent performance at the 2022 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix as he secured a fourth-placed finish, 9 positions ahead of team-mate Sir Lewis Hamilton.
After finishing 11th and 14th respectively in the sprint, Russell and Hamilton had contrasting fortunes at the start on Sunday as Russell leaped up to sixth, while the seven-time champion remained outside the top 10.
The Briton went on to fend off Valtteri Bottas to secure 12 points while Hamilton was stuck for large portions of the race behind Pierre Gasly, and he crossed the line having failed to pick up any points from the weekend for the first time in 2022.
Hamilton had been on the radio to query as to why DRS had not been enabled earlier in the race – it was eventually enabled on lap 32 – but the AlphaTauri in front of him was also stuck behind the Williams of Alex Albon, giving the Frenchman DRS once it was eventually enabled.
Toto Wolff apologised to the Briton after he was faced with an “undriveable” car this weekend, but with Russell finishing up in fourth, Rosberg ultimately affirms that his former Mercedes team-mate was responsible for failing to bring home a better result.
“Toto was playing the mental game which was very smart on his behalf,” he said on Sky Sports.
“[Mercedes were] taking the blame themselves, really trying to support Lewis mentally, lifting him up and saying ‘hey Lewis, none of your doing, it’s really on us,’ so that’s very smart because it’s not quite the truth.
“Let’s remember that Russell is in P4, you know with that same car so Lewis definitely has a big role to play in that poor result this weekend.
“Russell still managed to get P4 out of it with a brilliant weekend so there was more in that car so really Toto was just trying to lift him up.
“It’s so important to try and make sure that Lewis keeps that motivation through the whole season.
“It’s important for the whole team and it’s quite easy for Lewis to lose it in these kinds of situations.”
The 2016 Formula 1 world champion added that Russell beat Hamilton “fair and square” this weekend having overcome him in qualifying, the sprint race and the grand prix.
The 24-year-old is now 21 points clear of Hamilton in the Drivers’ Standings after four races.