Nico Rosberg has said, if George Russell is on the same pace as Lewis Hamilton, things could become “really intense” at Mercedes next year.
Rosberg knows all too well how the atmosphere can change within the Silver Arrows when two team-mates are fighting at the front, and he believes Toto Wolff’s decision to promote the Briton carries a risk, should he challenge the seven-time World Champion.
Having already stepped in for Hamilton at Sakhir in 2020 and completed two days of post-season testing in Abu Dhabi, he’s already used to his new surroundings – which the 2016 World Champion thinks can inspire confidence in Russell.
“I think that Bahrain race is what helps George most, because Valtteri is a reference, he knows how Valtteri goes in qualifying with Lewis, often they’re nip and tuck, right there, and especially in Bahrain,” Rosberg said on Sky Sports F1.
Suits you, George 👀 #F1 pic.twitter.com/yew8Nq6U6L
— PlanetF1 (@Planet_F1) December 14, 2021
“And George was right there with Valtteri straight away, so that will give George a lot of confidence that he can get the job done and he will be quick enough.
“It was a difficult decision for Toto, because the risk is quite high. If George is really on exactly the same pace as Lewis, it could become really intense in the team.
“There are a lot of unknowns there, is George always going to back out, or is he going to get his elbows out? That’s just going to be so great to watch.”
Martin Brundle disagreed with the German in the sense of bringing Russell to the team, given the pace difference he has appeared to have with Valtteri Bottas through the course of the season.
Bottas had a relatively lacklustre year when it came to keeping up with Hamilton for a significant portion of the season, which prompted the team to make a change for next year.
Having been out of the running at the front in Abu Dhabi, Brundle thinks this was an illustration as to why Wolff and Mercedes plumped to promote their junior driver – coupled with looking to how he could be at the forefront of the team in the future.
“I think it was an easy decision because Valtteri [in Abu Dhabi] was a good example of why Valtteri is not the man to lead the team into the future,” Brundle said.
“Lewis is going to carry on for what, another two seasons? They needed their young gun to fight Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc, Carlos Sainz into the future.”
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