David Coulthard believes a true comparison between Lewis Hamilton and George Russell would be more representative in a front-running car.
The former McLaren and Red Bull driver believes that the difference in expectations between the drivers could play a part in this, in the sense that Hamilton has driven race-winning cars for the majority of his career while Russell has struggled at the back – creating two different headspaces within the drivers.
Russell has out-performed Hamilton by seven races to two in their head-to-head on Sundays so far this season, and also leads the qualifying battle between the pair of them.
Hamilton looked stronger in Canada as he took a solid third-placed finish and appeared the quicker of the Mercedes pair and, while former Toyota driver Timo Glock believes Hamilton has a “different calibre” of team-mate in Russell, Coulthard thinks the true acid test for who will come out on top within the team will come in the fight for race victories.
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“I think George is a future World Champion. I think he’s a fantastic driver, and I think he’s earned that place in the team,” Coulthard told media, as per RacingNews365.
“But we won’t truly know how he compares to Lewis until they have a winning car again, because right now, this is the best car that George has ever driven, relative to where the fastest car is, and this is not the best car that Lewis has driven.
“It’s two different mindsets, two different phases of their careers. And that’s why right now you go, ‘Oh, George’s outperforming Lewis’.
“Well, let’s wait and see when they qualify first and second in whatever order it happens to be just how the running order is then.”
He reasoned that a part of this comes down to the feeling of faster cars feeling more difficult to drive at times, given how close to the limits of performance front-running cars tend to be – meaning the quickest drivers show themselves in those circumstances.
“I think in my mind’s eye, and it remains to be seen, as in when Mercedes delivers a World Championship car again, but the exceptional drivers [like] your Lewis’, your Maxs, go back in time, your Schumachers, your Hakkinens, and the like, when the faster the car is, the more difficult it is to drive,” he said.
“So, what tends to happen is when you have a really fast car, exceptional drivers get more out of it. And when you have an average car, it becomes easier for everyone to get something out of it because it’s an average car.”
Can Hamilton or Russell delight their home crowd?
Lewis Hamilton and George Russell will be hoping their Mercedes can give them enough to provide them with a strong result at their home British GP this weekend.