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Russell: Ex-F2 rivals Norris and Albon starring in F1 helps me

George Russell hopes his Formula 1 reputation will be lifted by what fellow rookies Alex Albon and Lando Norris are achieving, amid his current Williams struggles

Toro Rosso newcomer Albon and McLaren protege Norris have both starred in the opening stages of the 2019 season, and were the drivers Russell beat to last year's Formula 2 championship.

Although Russell has also impressed in his first outings for Williams so far, regularly outqualifying and outracing team-mate Robert Kubica - it has been a bruising start to the campaign for his team, whose FW42 car has remained firmly at the back of the pack.

Russell is the one shining light amid Williams's pain

Russell hopes his reputation at least gets a lift from the strong performances of other young drivers in F1.

"I think the level of rookies these days is extremely high, and obviously in these difficult times for me, looking at what they're doing, I wouldn't say it fills me with pride, but it kind of looks good on me as well," he said.

"Obviously we all raced in equal machinery [in F2] last year, so if they're doing a great job, then that looks good on me as well."

Russell also believes he has found it easier to cope with Williams's current difficulties because he himself did not have a "perfect career" leading up to F1.

Asked by Autosport whether his own career background helped him better cope with Williams's current predicament, Russell said: "Yeah, you know, it's not my first difficult year.

"I think sometimes if you have just such a perfect career path, when you do have a difficulty, you don't know how to handle it, whereas I've had a number of difficult moments in my career, so I've sort of got the experience on that hand."

Russell, who is backed by Mercedes, stepped up to F1 after claiming back-to-back titles in GP3 and F2.

But this was preceded by two less glorious years in European Formula 3 (pictured below with Carlin in 2015) in which he was unable to fight for the title against the leading cars of the dominant Prema outfit.

Russell cited these as examples of "character-building" campaigns for him, while also putting 2013, his final year in karting, into the same category.

"My last year in karting was very difficult, sort of went to a team [Birel ART] which wasn't performing at the time," he said.

"I saw it was a win-win situation: if I performed it'd look great on me and if I didn't, people would just blame it on the equipment.

"You can call that character-building seasons, and I also had that in Formula 3, my two seasons in Formula 3 were far from perfect.

"And that made me sort of into the driver I am today, and I learned a huge amount from those moments."

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