Hamilton: Russell is the future of F1 and he can become a champion

Lewis Hamilton believes that George Russell has the potential to become Formula 1 world champion after impressing during his first two years in the sport.

The 2018 F2 champion is a part of the Mercedes Driver Academy and has excelled since making his F1 debut for Williams at the 2019 Australian Grand Prix.

Due to Williams’ lack of competitiveness, he has largely been stranded at the back of the grid but his qualifying laps, in particular, have attracted attention.

While standing in for Hamilton at the Sakhir Grand Prix, the 22-year-old put his car second on the grid in his first qualifying session in a Mercedes, before overtaking Valtteri Bottas from the start and leading the first half of the race.

A botched pit stop and puncture meant that he finished the race in ninth, earning his first points finish, but his speed clearly caught the eye of the man he replaced.

“I believe Russell is the future of F1 and he can become a world champion,” Hamilton said. “This year has been fantastic for how he has managed his driving and for what he has done with Williams, putting them in Q2 quite often.

“He achieved excellent results. I am impressed by his ability to manage races and how he has grown over the past two years. What he did, in a way, is similar to what Alonso did in his early years in F1. Many talented drivers have to start on a smaller team to have the opportunity to grow, improve, and be able to make mistakes.”