Nico Rosberg believes George Russell is exhibiting Mercedes made a “good alternative” to select him over Valtteri Bottas for this yr.
The 2016 World Champion thinks the Briton’s efficiency on the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, the place he rose from eleventh on the grid to complete fourth, confirmed he too has what it takes to succeed in F1’s pinnacle.
Russell has made a rock-solid begin to life as a full-time Mercedes driver, but to complete exterior the highest 5 within the season’s opening 4 grands prix.
He sits fourth within the Drivers’ standings and holds a 21-point benefit over his team-mate Lewis Hamilton, the seven-time former champion.
That is the primary of his 4 F1 campaigns during which Russell has been persistently in the direction of the entrance, having largely struggled in an uncompetitive Williams from 2019-21.
And, says Rosberg, he’s completely justifying his promotion on the expense of Bottas, who had 5 years at Mercedes as Hamilton’s team-mate after the German himself retired within the aftermath of turning into World Champion in 2016.
“It was very dangerous to take George and change Bottas with him as a result of George is such an unknown, however we will say now already it was an excellent alternative,” Rosberg informed Sky F1.
“George has been so mature and delivered the utmost factors potential with this automotive.”
Nonetheless, if there’s a draw back for Russell, it’s that Mercedes have fallen off the tempo being set by Ferrari and Purple Bull this season having held the Constructors’ crown for the earlier eight years.
However, though he might not be within the working to problem title favourites Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen, Rosberg sees one large plus for Russell’s prospects – the chance to get the higher of Hamilton.
“For George, will probably be a giant disappointment as a result of he was going into the season considering he would be capable to race for wins, possibly even a championship, so this can be a large setback for him,” mentioned Rosberg.
“However, he’s nonetheless very younger and for him there may be nonetheless the large alternative to beat, with the identical automotive, the very best of all time, it doesn’t matter the place they’re ultimately.
“That’s so essential for George, to be very near Lewis, to beat him as a lot as potential, as a result of it is going to actually dictate how the remainder of his profession will go if Mercedes maintain him on and issues like that.
“Now we have to say he did so brilliantly all through the weekend at Imola, which was the primary time this yr he actually dominated Lewis and we’re actually overlooking that due to the place they had been.
“However we have to see he was like 4 tenths faster than Lewis all weekend and forward of him all weekend, which was actually an superior job by George and the primary time we actually noticed this potential World Championship stage of driving from him.”