Lewis Hamilton believes George Russell has the “potential to be a future champion” as the Mercedes driver praised his compatriot and explained his supportive message to him after the Emilia-Romagna GP.
Hamilton replied to a message the Williams driver had posted on Instagram apologising for throwing away the chance of a first F1 point by crashing behind the Safety Car into the closing stages of the last race at Imola.
“It’s ok to make mistakes and it’s ok to feel the pain,” wrote Hamilton to Russell.
“I’ve made more than I can remember. You’re great bud. Keep your head up and keep pushing, on to the next one.”
Speaking at the Turkish GP, Hamilton explained why he felt it was “important” to send the message he did.
“Looking at those in the early phases of their Formula 1 career, I’ve been there,” said the six-time champion. “Many of us have been there and I know what it’s like to have experiences like that.
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“I just wanted to show that it’s ok, don’t beat yourself down too much. He’s going to do it his own way anyway because that’s how we are wired as racing drivers but I just wanted to show some support.”
Although Russell is still awaiting his first top-10 race finish after 34 grands prix, the 22-year-old’s performances over two seasons in F1 have often transcended a Williams car that is among the slowest in the field.
The Briton has not yet been outqualified by a team-mate and on eight occasions this year has reached Q2, the second stage of qualifying.
Fernando Alonso recently told Sky F1 he saw Russell as the one to watch in the sport’s emerging young generation, and Hamilton also believes the Williams driver has star potential.
“What he’s been able to do similar to if you look at Alonso [at Minardi in 2001] and drivers coming into one of the teams that are further back,” said Hamilton of the Mercedes-managed Russell.
“Having an opportunity to grow and improve, and lead a team and make mistakes, all those different things.
“This year he’s just been great how he’s handles everything and what he’s done with that car to put it into Q2 quite often and really delivering great results. Really impressed with his race craft and how he’s growing.
“He really is the future. There are several drivers that are the future of this sport but he’s one of them and I’m really excited to see his progression.
“I have no doubt that he has the potential to be a future champion.”
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