Russell sure Hamilton will "come back strong" after Imola F1 woes

George Russell expects his Mercedes Formula 1 team-mate Lewis Hamilton to “come back strong” after a difficult Emilia Romagna Grand Prix where the seven-time champion struggled to finish 13th.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W13, Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren MCL36

From 11th on the grid at Imola, Russell made a good start and had a superb race to fourth place in the tricky wet/dry event.

Hamilton meanwhile struggled to make progress and finished where he started in 14th on the road, spending most of the race stuck behind Pierre Gasly's AlphaTauri, but gained a place when Esteban Ocon was hit with a five-second penalty for an unsafe release in front of Hamilton in the pits.

It marked the third race in a row that Russell had finished ahead of Hamilton after taking fifth in Jeddah and third in Australia, but the former Williams driver says their discrepancy in results at Imola was just down to circumstances and stressed that he's “not getting comfortable” with his experienced team-mate.

“I think it's just how things fall out sometimes in a race weekend,” he said.

“I made a very strong start. I don't know what happened with him [Lewis] at the start, but we are equally struggling, and when the car is so far out of bed, and it's not in the right window, it doesn't really feel like a proper racing car to drive.

“And especially we're struggling with the tyre warm-up. Friday was 13 degrees and it was just a nightmare to drive.

“I expect him to come back so strong, and the way he's pushing and motivating the team is inspiring.

“I'm not getting comfortable with this position, because I know what he's capable of.”

George Russell, Mercedes-AMG, is interviewed

George Russell, Mercedes-AMG, is interviewed

Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

Intriguingly Russell suggested that his three years with a largely uncompetitive Williams had been good preparation for driving the difficult Mercedes W13, which Hamilton said in Imola was “not far off” the disastrous 2009 McLaren that he considers the worst of his F1 career.

“It's just been a really difficult position for us as a team, and perhaps with my struggles at Williams driving very difficult cars, maybe that's helped in some small regard,” Russell acknowledged.

“Q1 and Q2 for us now is massively important, whereas previously for Mercedes that was a breeze, it was almost like a build-up session getting ready for Q3.

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“As I said, Lewis is going to come back incredibly strong, I have no doubt, and he's definitely going to push me all the way.”

Despite the obvious issues with the car, Russell has finished in the top five in all four races this season, and he currently lies in fourth place in the world championship.

“In terms of results we're definitely getting the most out of it and things have definitely fallen our way in these first four races,” he noted.

“It gives me and I'm sure it gives the team confidence that when the car improves, we'll be there to get even more points on the board.

“But as I said before this weekend, we can't sustain this level of these results if we don't improve the pace of the car.”

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