George Russell has made a strong start to life at Mercedes with the young Brit beating Lewis Hamilton more often than not, but Fernando Alonso still believes his old team-mate will come good at the end of the season. Mercedes are not where they want to be at the moment having fallen behind both Ferrari and Red Bull. Neither Hamilton or Russell have been able to challenge with Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc for race wins.
But the 37-year-old has had an even tougher time through the opening five races having finished 10th or lower twice already. He’s had his fair share of bad luck too due to the timing of different Safety Cars, with Russell ultimately benefiting. Russell currently sits 23 points ahead of his team-mate heading into the Spanish Grand Prix this weekend.
Mercedes were confident they were bringing in a driver capable of challenging Hamilton and Alonso believes Russell has proven that already. However, Alonso ultimately believes that Hamilton will come out on top at the end of the year when the going gets tough. When asked by BBC Sport whether he has been surprised at Russell’s performances against Hamilton so far, he said: “Yes and no.
George has been very fast in the last few years and I think everyone was expecting him to be a tough competitor for Lewis. “But I still believe Lewis will eventually finish the championship in front. This is just a five-race championship, but eventually when things are more tricky or [there are] difficult situations, Lewis will still have more experience and maybe more talent.”
Alonso returned to the sport last year in the hope of eventually challenging for a world title himself. That looks extremely unlikely this year at Alpine, but the Spaniard doesn’t feel as much pressure as he did during his time at Ferrari. “It is different, for sure,” Alonso added. “Those years in Ferrari, they were a lot of pressure. We were very close a couple of times and those missed opportunities were quite heavy on the shoulders of everyone.
“The atmosphere in the team was not happy enough at one moment and I decided to stop the relationship there, even if I had two more years’ contract, because it was the best for both parties. Now, I still want the third championship so bad, but at the same time I understand how the sport works right now and you have only one car or maximum two when you can fight for the championship.
“You try to build with the team that car, and that process is interesting – how to grow up together with the team, the facilities in the factory and all the resources just to be one of those two teams that can fight for the championship.”