Martin Brundle warns George Russell he can’t go on ‘missing list’ at Mercedes

The 23-year-old is joining the team who hope to be celebrating another double title win this season

Karl Matchett
Thursday 02 December 2021 17:01
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Martin Brundle says George Russell is about to find out how much the spotlight increases on racing drivers when in the Mercedes line-up, but backs the “confident” driver to showcase his best form rather than be cowed by the scrutiny.

Russell will leave Williams at the end of this season, his third with the team, to replace Valtteri Bottas as Lewis Hamilton’s team-mate, with Bottas off to Alfa Romeo.

When the move was announced, Russell acknowledged he was looking forward to the challenge, but also acknowledged it would be a step-up in expectations.

“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t absolutely buzzing. It’s a huge opportunity and one I want to grab with both hands,” he said at the time. “But I’m under no illusions as to the scale of the challenge; it’s going to be a steep learning curve. I want to do my new teammates proud. Of course, one of those new team-mates is in my opinion the greatest driver of all time.”

The greater demands on him will be no issue for Russell in terms of self-belief, says Brundle, who thinks the young Brit has the mentality to make a big success of the high-profile move.

“When you’re in a second half of the grid team you can sparkle every so often and everybody talks about it, and then you go on the missing list and nobody notices,” Brundle told assembled media. “When you get in a car like [Mercedes’], as Valtteri’s found out, you can’t ever go on the missing list.

“I don’t know which other young driver would have coped with Imola, where you throw away, for the second consecutive year, Williams points and wipe out the works Mercedes you’re hoping to get in en route with your accident, and then get out and blame that driver, and then get a lift home with [Mercedes chief] Toto [Wolff] on his jet that night.

“So, you know, he is a confident lad.

“I think he’s got a nice balance of confidence that stops just short of arrogance. And I think that’s exactly where you need to be up against Lewis, who’s comfortable, and knows Mercedes.”

Such a step-up in the demands on a driver could go either way, explains Brundle, but he is backing Russell to shine and prove why is seen by many as a long-term successor to Hamilton himself, who is this season chasing a record-breaking eighth championship win.

“He’ll need to be good, he’ll need a strong head. And I think he’ll do just fine.

“Everybody notices how you’re performing, so the spotlight will be fierce, and you don’t really know until you get in that spotlight whether you grow, it’s a source of energy, or whether you wither like a flower, and we’ll have to wait and see what George does.”

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