Charles Leclerc has little doubt that George Russell will perform “very, very well” at Mercedes next season, having witnessed up close the Briton’s remarkable talent since their days in karting together.
Mercedes confirmed on Tuesday that Russell will race alongside seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton from next season.
The move will finally put the 23-year-old Russell on the same level as his talented young peers, such as Leclerc, Max Verstappen or Lando Norris, with every top team in Formula 1 set to include in its 2022 line-up a young gun from the sport’s new generation of drivers.
- Read also: Russell ready to grab ‘huge opportunity’ with both hands
“I’ve actually been team-mates with George,” Leclerc said. “It was a long time ago in karting.
“I think what I’ve seen of him since that time is that he’s just extremely talented, and every time he got into the kart back then, or the car now, he’s just quick straight away.
“His talent makes him special. I think he deserves his chance at Mercedes and I’m pretty sure he will perform very, very well and impress more than one person.”
Russell’s Williams teammate Nicholas Latifi reacted to the official news of his friend’s move to Mercedes with a tongue-and-cheek post on social media.
“Whaaat?! I thought team-mates who vacation together stay together… Was our holiday bromance all for nothing?!” joked the Canadian.
View this post on Instagram
Beyond the banter, Latifi praised his colleague and insisted that Russell’s talent goes well beyond his stand-out qualifying skills which have earned him the nickname of ‘Mr. Saturday’.
“Being team-mates with him currently, and in recent times, I know firsthand exactly how quick he is,” Latifi told F1.com.
“I think to the public, the Saturday performances are quite stand-out, and I obviously see from behind the scenes on the data how quick he is exactly in those scenarios.
“But I think besides the actual raw speed he has, his ability to always put everything together on that crucial moment, that lap that counts, is very impressive.
“Even besides the ‘Mr Saturday’ tag, there’s a lot of things outside of qualifying. Managing little details in the race and a lot of peripheral things he’s very, very strong at. It’s quite impressive.
“We already saw what he was capable of doing last year in Bahrain, so I have no doubts he’ll be on the pace straight away.”
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