George Russell, Williams, Sochi Autodrom, 2020

“No doubt” Russell is a potential champion – Hamilton

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In the round-up: Lewis Hamilton has said he has no doubt George Russell could be a future F1 champion, comparing him to Fernando Alonso.

What they say

Following Russell’s crash behind the Safety Car at Imola, Hamilton was one of several drivers to reach out to him sympathetically on social media:

Looking at those that are in the early phases of their Formula 1 career, I’ve been there, many of us have been there and I know what it’s like to have experiences like that and I just wanted to show that it’s OK, don’t beat yourself down too much.

He’s going to do it his own way anyway because that’s that’s how we are wired as racing drivers. But I just wanted to show some some support because I think what he’s done, I think his approach, what he’s been able to do has been similar to if you look at Alonso, a lot of the drivers coming into one of the teams that are further back, having an opportunity to grow and improve and lead a team and and make mistakes, all those different things.

I think this year it’s just been great how he’s handled everything and what he’s done with that car to put it into into Q2 quite often and really deliver great results. I’m really impressed with his craft and how he’s growing and I really do think he really is the future. There’s several drivers that are the future of this sport, he’s one of them and I’m really excited to see his progression. And I have no doubt that he has the potential to be a future champion.

Quotes: Dieter Rencken

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Comment of the day

Ninjenius spots another 2020 battle that Hamilton wrapped up in Istanbul – but a rare record he’s unlikely to break.

Lando Norris’ fastest lap ensured that Lewis Hamilton has won this season’s fastest lap award outright.

Fastest Laps:
Hamilton – 6
Bottas – 2
Verstappen – 2
Norris – 2
Ricciardo – 1
Sainz Jnr – 1

Whilst it is the fifth time he has collected this award, he still has some way to catch Michael Schumacher’s record of 77 fastest laps (Hamilton has 53). Given the introduction of the bonus point for fastest lap, it’s increasingly likely that this is one of the few records Hamilton will not break (not that he’ll care!). That is, unless he continues for another four to five years with Mercedes operating at a current or similar level of dominance.

Happy birthday!

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On this day in F1

  • Born today in 1932: Nasif Estefano, who made his single F1 start in his home race at Buenos Aires in 1960

Author information

Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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51 comments on ““No doubt” Russell is a potential champion – Hamilton”

  1. Russell in a Red Bull would give Verstappen nightmares. Pity this can’t happen.

    1. Russell is a solid also ran who could end up with a championship in the right car just like Button or Raikkonen.

      1. I rate Raikkonen higher than either Button or Russell. It was clear very early on in Raikkonen’s career that he was championship calibre. It’s only McLaren’s unreliability that prevented him from clinching one until 2007. I think the Button comparison may be fair, but Russell hasn’t quite proven to me that he’s as good as Button was yet.

        1. Arguably, McLaren’s unreliability won Raikkonen the championship in 2007.

          1. @inkpen99 I don’t think McLaren were particularly unreliable in 2007, were they? My recollection is that Raikkonen had more unreliability that year than either Alonso or Hamilton.

          2. @inkpen99 Ferrari unreliability nearly lost Kimi the title in 2007. He had race-ending failures at Barcelona and Nurburgring. The only failure McLaren had all year was a minor glitch for Lewis at Interlagos.

          3. @wsrgo

            Wasn’t even a glitch.. Hamilton accidentally hit a button on the steering wheel when he was avoiding Alonso’s brake test at the start.

            I think Mclaren did hand Kimi the title on a platter though.. just by the way they managed their drivers that year.

    2. Verstappen has already shown he can go toe to toe with great drivers by doing it with Ricciardo for 3 years, so I don’t think Russell would be any different than those years.

      Besides, Russell is married to a Dutch woman, he knows how to deal with the Dutch directness already.

      1. @aiii Woooooosh

      2. I thought de sister of Nick de Vries was his girlfriend seems i missed the marriage on the line.

        1. I mean, I don’t frequent the gossip column nor particularly care about the marital status of F1 drivers, so don’t quote me on that, I just remember someone on commentary at some point referring to her as his wife.

    3. Hahaha, good one. Keep dreaming

    4. If red bull give him Albons car I doubt he would be able to do much better

      1. He’s already proved he’s better than Albon during their F2 stint together. I think he’d do better.. but hard to say by how much.

  2. Pretty sad that Hitech feel BRDC British Formula 3 is a better ROI than the W Series

    1. My guess is that it has to do with the W series now going on the F1 support races schedule @pastaman. Maybe the travel for those races was more than Hitech would handle?

  3. Great link to the Mosport story – my stomping grounds! Ron and partners/family have done a fantastic job upgrading it – can’t wait to get back next year!

  4. I have a feeling that Russel is

  5. I have a feeling that Russel already is one of the all time greatest.
    Most races without scoring points:
    1. Luca Badoer 50
    2. Charles Pic 39
    3. George Russel 35

    1. He doesn’t have the champion luck ….yet!

    2. I think being in the worst car on the grid might have something to do with that @mrtn
      I know you’re probably going to say, well Kubica got a point, etc. but let’s be honest Russell was the better driver there by miles.

  6. Russell has talent but hard to tell how much because his teammates have consisted of a pay driver and another that’s disabled in one arm. I’m still mystified that Kubica was allowed to drive these cars with effectively one hand last year.

    There’s no racism in F1. Hamilton’s never been held back because of his skin. He debuted in the best car on the grid. How many drivers have ever been given the best car on the grid in the first season?

    1. Hamilton may have implied that theres not much diversity in f1 amd the f1 teams. Which in turn means that yes f1 IS RACIST. to do nothing is the same as doing the wrong thing some times

      1. @Wayne

        So is the NBA racist against white people?

        1. Cut it out you two. We don’t need stinky troll baits here, thank you very much.

          Besides which both of you use that language soo cheaply. The benigh and the extreme,
          all settling upon that single polarised thought, so as to render it meaningless. Another
          knee jerk responce which was without any actual thought or analysis. Barely serving as
          a grunt.

          In that way you’d turn the neutrals into your enemies. All those well meaning folks trying
          to do the right thing would never meet your exacting standards, as you sought to capitalise
          on reflex engenered with that lable. Not knowing worst, you would apply that label to every
          and anything, glibly as if your were deployed or employed by that lable. Blindly you would
          not see the consequences.

          Save your bluster for where it is needed.

          A more educated way to see this industry, would be in term of finance, money, capital-ism.
          Most of the drivers have a wealth of finance behind them before they even get the chance to
          prove themselves. This isn’t a track met where you turn up with your spikes and bundle of

    2. If you actually took half a second to listen to Hamilton when he spoke on these issues you’d know how utterly ignorant that comment was.

      1. Half a second?

        That’s way too long to listen to Hamilton.

      2. @aiii

        I don’t recall him ever saying that he was treated racist even once, in F1. Only in karting, which is not F1.

        1. Well there is also the “maybe it is because I’m black” thing from years gone by:

    3. @Darren Moore

      Indeed. It’s quite possible that Russell is merely a solid midfield driver, like Bottas.

    4. Darren Moore, do you really think that Formula 1 is a perfect world where there is no discrimination of any kind at all?

      Even a mere suggestion that there could possibly be any sort of discrimination in the sport results in several individuals here reflexively crying “no, it can’t exist” in a way that suggests that they find the notion of having to acknowledge and confront any form of bias more abhorrent than the bias itself.

      1. There is no agenda to specifically employ people with white skin.

        Is there an agenda at Honda to employ on people that have an Asian appearance?

        Is there an agenda in the NBA to employ people with black skin?

    5. The teams Darren, the teams.

      Oh, I forgot, it’s Darren again. It wouldn’t be Darren without some sort of anti-Hamilton comment.

    6. No racism in F1? It seems that F1 which employs thousands of people has been racist free since 2007. Who would have thought it.

      ‘Only weeks ago I heard a well respected figure in the higher echelons of racing refer to Hamilton as ” “, and we all know this person is by no means the first to hit the twice WDC with a racist slur’ Max Oxley 2015.

  7. Russell certainly is a potential champion That’s why I think he most likely has the 2nd Merc seat 90% secured for 2022. It may have been 2021 but for Williams wanting to hold him for another year.
    Verstappen, Leclerc, Norris all have what it takes but it does depend on how they mature as drivers e.g. fewer mistakes on track and also making the right choices team wise. Of those four Russell and Leclerc are already holding an advantage with which car they get to drive and Leclerc I think has the advantage on track showing his maturity with fewer mistakes and getting the most out of a slow car. So at this point I would say Leclerc would be the pick with Russell no2 to take over from Hamilton as top driver on the grid.

    1. Well they are all potential WDCs if they get the right car and their team mate is rubbish. Russell has done nothing yet. Its amazing people doubt a 7 x WDC who has been in the sport for 13 years but hail as great a man yet to score a point in 2 seasons and has binned it and blown it the 3 x he had a chance of a point. Amazing. Truly amazing.

    2. Strange, lec is one of the most error prone drivers on the grid. Yet, you seem to miss that fact completely.

  8. A nice read about Dean Stoneman and where he’s at now.

    1. Ah nice one @bascb
      Thanks for that.

  9. « most influential black person in the UK »
    i don’t know what to say about that…
    from my french viewpoint, this is discrimination if i ever saw it.
    what will you then do ? red people, yellow people, brown people ?

    why not just « most influential person »

    1. As far as my eyes can tell, he is black, isn’t he? I see nothing wrong with emphasizing the obvious. What’s next? You can’t say that he is a male racing driver?

      1. I meant to say “…stating the obvious”.
        And I think LH deserves all the credit that he has earned. :)

    2. I see where you’re coming from, imagine a ‘most influential white person in the uk’ award!

      However, everything needs to be seen in context, hopefully one day we won’t need such awards for ‘black’ or ‘women’ etc. because it won’t be necessary, sadly the current context means that it is needed somewhat.

      I would urge you to watch Hamilton’s Youtube video where he talks very well about it not being the white kid’s fault that no black children want to grow up and become F1 engineers, but instead we have to work together to first acknowledge there is a problem in the first place (which there is) and then work together to bring about gradual change. This doesn’t mean a completely even distribution, but proportions in certain positions that reflect the proportionate diversity of the country’s population in general. I don’t think we can say that about F1 teams based in the UK at present.

    3. Maybe there’s a language gap, or maybe the mere mention of category is to be percived with a negative slant, by anyone so minded.

      Maybe you would be happy with ‘the most influencial f1 driver’, since there would be no possible room for misinterpretation. Althought that in itself might be taken as under selling Hamilton’s influence.

      You would homosgenize all things to the general case just so that no distinction could be percived as a slight, but how much sense would that make?

      The kids on the street looking for icons and role models, should i guess do so without also making that distinction. Likewise those they look to for guidence. Yet how much sense does this make in the real world?

      You follow the language, as a series of derived associations. which is kind of ironic since it is the purpose
      of language to encapsulate our experiances as they are, and not simply as we would like them to be.

      In the real world there are people with greater baring and influnce on our lives. People whose names we’ll never know. In this situation though, that title « most influential black person in the UK » serves to draw us to the other persons on that list of influentials. Which is after all the point of having such a list. Not
      simply to give credit to, but to draw strenght from.

      If i have a point, it is that we all need to be more thoughtful than our raw gut reactions allow us to be.
      Anyone can find offense where it not meant.

  10. It’s a shame to see williams still favouring pay drivers who have zero talent like Aitken & Nissany. It would have been so much better had Dan Ticktum and Jamie Chadwick been given the opportunity for FP1 runs and test sessions as they are the only 2 who have potential to reach F1.

    Aitken and Nissany have had endless opportunity and have failed to prove that they are F1 worthy.

    1. Jose Lopes da Silva
      18th November 2020, 13:07

      “It’s a shame to see williams still favouring pay drivers who have zero talent”

      Every time some tells you that Lance Stroll is proven and a decent talent, remember this thought of yours. Consider the finantial state of this sport and where are heading into.

  11. Given the fact that Lewis Hamilton arguably the most successful British athlete of all time and the living legend Murray Walker that cheered me – and millions of fans around the world – to watch F1 GPs in the English channels when I was a kid despite the fact that I have no business speaking English at the time, still don’t have a knighthood. I can only say that the Knighthood attribution system is flawed.

    If there is something positive to say about this is that neither Lewis nor Murray are in the same league as “Sir” Jackie Stewart who recently has been accused of serious racism accusations and has proudly collaborated in the past with a convicted criminal aka Roman Polanski.

  12. I’d not rate russell that high. Not because of what he has shown but simply because we can not know yet. If we look into the past we could say gasly was a future champion, same with ocon. Now when we have seen them go against fast team mates we know a lot more. The main and only issue russell has is his car. It is just awful. His team mates have also been questionable. As such he is in his own category which makes judging his performances almost impossible.

    And worst of all russell is at the point in his career where he needs tough team mates. Verstappen had to go against ricciardo which sure taught him a lot about maximising his results. Hamilton went against alonso. That surely taught him a lot what the driver can do and can ask of the team. Russell needs that. As it is now he is a rookie in f1 who is carrying his team. There are so many things he doesn’t know that he doesn’t know.

    And worst of all he doesn’t have a team mate that pushes him all the way to the edge in every session. As a young driver he needs to learn to cope with pressure. I’m sure that complacency one of the reasons why certain drivers fail at top level. They grow up in these back of the field teams and they get used to being able to beat their team mates even when they know they are not getting maximum out of themselves. Then suddenly they have someone next to them who takes every session and every loss like an insult and never give an inch. Gasly at alpha tauri, bottas at williams, hulk at force india and, I think, russell at williams. They are suddenly out qualified and out raced and they have no tools to counter attack because they never had to learn that.

    Just like ocon, we need to see russell in a mid field competitive car to see what kind of future he is.

  13. Unless the Safety Car curses him again.

  14. On a serious note, the fastest lap records have to be seen in context to the erea they were set.

    Its nice as a bonus, but i wouldn’t want to see drivers over stress their engines to achive it,
    particulary now there’s a limit the engines they can replace without penalties.

    For that reason the sensible driver will be mindful of the long game. If they happen to get
    a fastest lap, all well and good, but if it comes at a cost the car…..

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