George Russell closing in on unique F1 record after podium at Italian GP

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GEORGE RUSSELL picked up his seventh podium of the season at the Italian Grand Prix.

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George Russell is closing in on a unique F1 record only held by Swedish driver Ronnie Peterson. The Mercedes star could become the second driver to finish as runner-up in the championship having never secured a victory in the sport.

Peterson finished second in the 1971 F1 championship but didn’t bag his first victory until 1973. Russell could also become just the third driver to finish runner-up having not won a race that season.

Alongside Peterson, Guiseppe Farina also failed to get on the top step as he finished P2 in the 1952 championship season. The interesting statistic was flagged by Reddit user DarthHelmet123 hours after the chequered flag at Monza.

Russell now lies just 16 points behind Charles Leclerc after a consistent season from the Mercedes rookie. He has finished in the top five at every race he has finished this season. The only black mark in his copybook came at the British Grand Prix when he crashed with Zhou Guanyu.

READ MORE: George Russell hints Mercedes could steal Red Bull design

George Russell closing in on unique F1 record after podium at Italian GP

George Russell is closing in on an F1 record (Image: Getty)

Russell has also scored more podiums than Leclerc with seven top-three finishes to his name. Meanwhile, Leclerc only has six podium finishes after a string of mechanical issues and strategic errors from Ferrari.

Russell’s consistency has put him fourth in the championship with 203 points, behind Sergio Perez with 209 and Leclerc with 219. Mercedes trails Ferrari by 35 points in the team’s standings but still has six races remaining to close the gap.

Ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix, Russell admitted Mercedes could challenge for second in the championship over the second half of the season.

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George Russell closing in on unique F1 record after podium at Italian GP

Ronnie Peterson finished second in the championship having not won in 1971 (Image: Getty)

At this stage, Russell was 20 points behind Leclerc with Mercedes 30 points behind Ferrari. He said: “We are in a position now where we can probably fight for second in both championships.

“Obviously we go in with the fighting spirit and we want to win every race and the championship but being realistic Red Bull and Max are doing an exceptional job and they are a long way ahead of everyone else. But I guess we want to be the highest points scoring team in the second half of the season. That has to be our target.

“Second in both championships is not far away. The learning we will do in the second half of the season will give us confidence for next year as well.” However, Russell is a comfortable 35 points in front of his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton who is down in sixth.

Hamilton has picked up six podiums this year but has failed to reach the top three since the summer break.

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