Dave Robson, Williams’ Head of Vehicle Performance, believes George Russell is not far off Lewis Hamilton and will be as good as him.
Russell, 23, is widely considered one of the best young drivers in Formula 1 and the man to replace Hamilton as Mercedes’ lead driver once the seven-time World Champion retires.
With him spending his first three years – with the exception of the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix – at the back of the grid and failing to score points though, many feel he is not yet ready.
However, Robson believes the Williams driver is already close to Hamilton’s level and is sure he will one day get there.
“I think there are definitely some similarities there,” Robson said, quoted by Motorsport.com.
“They were obvious from the first time I met George and we ran him in the simulator at Grove. Then we went up and ran him around the airfield in a road car. Again, there was something. There was something there.
“I think the talent is there. I think he is very close to Lewis and has the potential to get there. For sure.”
100 POLES! I can’t even begin to describe how this feels. I can’t thank the team and everyone back at the factory enough for everything they’ve done to help us secure this incredible milestone. I feel so humbled and very grateful. This feels like my first win all over again 🙌🏾💯 pic.twitter.com/KkCgShdhq2
— Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) May 8, 2021
Hamilton’s latest major achievement was becoming the first F1 driver ever to claim 100 pole positions after he went fastest in qualifying at the Spanish Grand Prix.
Robson worked with him at McLaren, being at the team from when the Briton joined to when he left, and says his one-lap pace and talent as a whole was clear to see from the off.
“I’ve obviously not worked with him for quite a few years but it’s something he’s always had, I think. There’s just that something about him. That special quality that you can’t really define,” he added.
“That was obvious right from when he was just a kid and [McLaren] took him testing at Elvington [airfield] going up and down the runway.
“Whereas most kids, when you took them to Elvington, they were just chuffed to bits to be in an F1 car – even though they were just going up and down the runway. He was different right from the beginning. He just has that talent and that tremendous attitude.
“So, take your hat off to him. He’s an annoying customer to have on the other side of the garage, for sure. But yeah, he’s a phenomenal talent.”