Jenson Button is not the first to suggest George Russell is having an easier time this season than Lewis Hamilton because of his lack of recent success.
Russell stepped up to Mercedes this season after three years of racing at the very back of the grid with Williams.
The Briton had a tough time honing his craft at the Grove team, the Williams F1 cars woefully off the pace, so much so it was not until his third season that he finally scored his first points for the team.
With the Mercedes W13 proving to be a “killer to drive”, Hamilton is finding it difficult to get the most out of the car while Russell is the only driver on this year’s grid to have finished every race inside the top five.
It is those struggles Button believes have given him an advantage over Hamilton in this year’s championship.
“It’s easier for George because he hasn’t won in a long time,” Speedweek quotes Button as having told Sky Sports. “For him, the Mercedes is still a step up from last year, so he can be a bit more relaxed about it.
“He also finishes ahead of his team-mate, even if it wasn’t entirely his fault in Miami as Lewis was unlucky with the Safety Car.”
Russell is 23 points ahead of Hamilton in the Drivers’ Championship.
The 2009 World Champion highlighted the ‘porpoising’ the W13 seems to suffer more than its rivals as Mercedes’ biggest concern.
He does, however, see a silver lining for the Silver Arrows.
“The reason why Mercedes struggle so much is because they have the ‘porpoising’ in the high-speed corners as well,” he said. “Straight-line speed is fine, it’s just not comfortable for the drivers.
“[In] lower-speed corners the Mercedes car is very good, so the potential is definitely there.”
Button is not the only driver-turned-pundit who believes Russell’s time at Williams, and those lessons learned, are now paying off for the driver.
Dutch racing driver Tim Coronel recently told Motorsport.com: “Russell has had to drive a chicken coop of a car for the past few years [at Williams], let’s get that straight. He had to learn to adapt to the car and get the most out of it. And he does.”
Danica Patrick, who joined the Sky Sports team in Miami, believes Russell is the only one at Mercedes not feeling frustrated.
“To me, he almost feels like the anchor to the team right now,” said the former driver. “Lewis is frustrated, doesn’t feel like they have made any progress. Toto [Wolff] sounds very frustrated.
“I know they are not doing what they are used to doing, but George sounded really collected and said they have to stay the course.”