‘Russell needs patience, humility against a 7x champ’

Michelle Foster
George Russell Williams garage HANS. Azerbaijan June 2021

George Russell getting ready for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, putting on his HANS in the Williams garage. Azerbaijan June 2021

Felipe Massa says George Russell needs to be “patient and humble” next season, as he lines up alongside a seven-time World Champion, as Massa did in 2006.

Back in 2006, Massa had his first season with a leading Formula 1 team, swapping Sauber for Ferrari.

That decision to promote the Brazilian meant he found himself racing alongside seven-time World Champion Michael Schumacher, at the time the most successful driver ever in Formula 1.

Russell will find himself in a similar position next season, moving from Williams to Mercedes where he will partner seven-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton.

Massa says it is a great opportunity from Russell to learn from one of the best, if not the best on today’s grid.

“I had my first opportunity with a big team as Ferrari,” he told Sky Italia. “We know how difficult it is to get in a Ferrari when beside you have Michael Schumacher.

“I tried to learn a lot, I tried to do what he did, follow him, doing the same, [and thinking] what I could do differently, that maybe could give me a bigger advantage.

“I managed to learn and to grow during the championship. And this gave me a lot of strength because you felt you were strong inside the team and you felt you could win or do the pole. This for sure was very important to me, it made me grow a lot.

“And I think Russell is a special driver. He’s a driver that has a speed that is really incredible.

“What he proved so far, he’s a driver that needs a competitive car, he’s a driver that can prove a lot when the car will be the right one for him.

“For sure he has a team-mate that we know is not easy. But I think he has a good head and that he’s a quiet driver. He can prove a lot already from his first year in Mercedes in my opinion.”

While Russell insists Mercedes have told him that he will have equal status to Hamilton, and even the seven-time World Champion has said he doesn’t want his new team-mate’s wings to be “clipped”, Massa reckons Russell needs to show patience and humility in his first season alongside the champion.

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“He has to,” he said, “because if he will not be patient and humble, it can be a negative point.

“You must have a lot of patience, work more than anybody else, this is what champions do.”

After two and a bit years without scoring a single point for Williams, Russell bagged his third top-ten in four races at the Italian GP, finishing P9.

He is up to 15th in the Drivers’ Championship with 15 points.

Additional reporting from Luca Brambilla


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