Russell praised for ‘reading the script’ and outracing Hamilton in Miami

David Coulthard believes that Mercedes made the right choice in signing George Russell to replace Valtteri Bottas.

Former Formula 1 driver David Coulthard affirms that George Russell is justifying Mercedes’ faith in him with his strong performance in 2022.

There is no question that Mercedes have struggled under the new technical regulations that have seen their car stumble in the first five races of the year, and a podium a piece for Russell and team-mate Sir Lewis Hamilton has been symptomatic of a failure, for now at least, of the team to understand how to extract pace from the car.

However, they appeared to have a better handle of things in Miami last time out as the 24-year-old led Hamilton home to secure a P5 and a P6 respectively as he out-performed the seven-time champion in race trim for the fourth consecutive time.

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That came after he took a gamble of strategy having started outside the top 10, and he took advantage of a late Safety Car to pit onto fresh Mediums, which he used to pass the 37-year-old, who had already made his stop.

It had been a turbulent, rollercoaster weekend up to that point for Russell, so Coulthard imagines the team will have walked away happy with their efforts.

“Absolutely. I think Mercedes will be happy with that, if you can be happy finishing off the podium. I think George Russell will be extremely happy with that,” he said on Channel 4’s coverage of the race.

The Briton was also impressed with his compatriot’s assertiveness regarding his strategy after Russell held out for the influential Safety Car.

“He did, but the great thing is he put that out there, he shared it with the world [over team radio], ‘shall we just go a bit longer and see if a Virtual Safety Car comes?’” added Coulthard.

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“It’s almost like he read the script and it came, and he delivered.”

There was ambiguity as to how well the former Williams driver would settle alongside Hamilton having spent three years running towards the back, but the 13-time race winner believes that Mercedes are vindicated in their decision to replace Valtteri Bottas with Russell.

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“He’s having a great season. Yes, it’s not the car he thought he had signed up to, in terms of it’s not a winning car right now, but there’s no question Mercedes made the right decision, giving him the opportunity to be playing in the big leagues,” he stated.

Russell’s fine performances have landed him in fourth in the Drivers’ Championship after five rounds, while Hamilton is two places and 23 points further back.