2020 was an eventful year for Williams’ George Russell. Having driven in the backfield positions for the majority of his time in F1, an opportunity with Mercedes opened up for the 2020 Sakhir GP.
In just a matter of days, he quickly adapted to his surroundings at a new team. Having done so, he then put in an exemplary performance worthy of mentions after the race.
Two-time F1 champion Fernando Alonso spoke about the ‘striking case’ of Russell. When asked how he would rank the likes of Verstappen, Leclerc, and Russell, he had quite an interesting answer.
Alonso feels George Russell did ‘enough’ to get into a Mercedes
Speaking in an interview, Alonso stated, “Difficult to answer. But the Russell case is striking in explaining this F1. In five days, not a hundred, he went from last to first.”
“All without a divine touch, without meditation in Tibet or anything like that. It was enough to get into a Mercedes.”
Even while at Williams, Russell often out-qualified his teammate Latifi to earn the tag of ‘Mr. Saturday’. During his one-off Mercedes stint, he also showed he could take the fight to Valtteri Bottas.
Alonso continued, “Evaluating the pilots is complicated. Of course, if we think about who they see most often in Hamilton or Bottas mirrors, we find Verstappen. Leclerc is an exceptional talent but to really measure him it takes a few years.” (all quotes translated from Google Translate)
Russell showed he is worthy of an F1 seat at a top team
Despite getting just the solitary opportunity with Mercedes, Russell proved that he is capable of driving for the defending champions. With the smart overtakes, good tire-management, and adept in measuring his race pace, the 22-year-old showed he had it all in the Sakhir GP.
2021 will still see Mercedes stick with their Hamilton-Bottas combination. That would mean another year for the emerging Russell to improve on his skills at Mercedes.
It will certainly force Mercedes to rethink their drivers’ lineup for the 2022 season. And if they do, Russell would definitely top their list of contenders for the prized seat.