Former F1 driver Felipe Massa believes a bright future awaits George Russell but insists the Briton will require "patience and humility" to evolve and mature alongside Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes
After three formative years in Formula 1 with Williams, Russell will move on to the next level in 2022 when he replaces Valtteri Bottas at the Brackley squad where he will race alongside Hamilton.
Massa undoubtedly identifies with the 23-year-old's case as the Brazilian was also given his big break in F1 after serving a three-year apprenticeship, racing with Sauber before joining multiple world champion Michael Schumacher at Ferrari.
"I had my first opportunity with a big team as Ferrari," he told Sky Italia last weekend at Monza. "We know how difficult it is to get in a Ferrari when you have beside you Michael Schumacher.
"I tried to learn a lot, I tried to do what he did, follow him, doing the same or [thinking] what I could do differently that maybe could give me a bigger advantage.
"I managed to learn and to grow during the championship. And this gave me a lot of strength because you felt you were strong inside the team and you felt you could win or do the pole.
"This for sure was very important to me, it made me grow a lot.
"And I think Russell is a special driver. He’s a driver that has a speed that is really incredible.
"What he proved so far, he’s a driver that needs a competitive car, he’s a driver that can prove a lot when the car will be the right one for him.
"For sure he has a team-mate that we knows is not easy. But I think he has a good head and that he’s a quiet driver. He can prove a lot already from his first year in Mercedes in my opinion."
Hamilton has said that he welcomes Russell bringing "fresh blood" to the Mercedes team next season but expects a strong challenge from the "incredibly talented" young gun.
However, in order to pick up the baton from the seven-time world champion in the coming years, Russell will need to exert patience and display humility reckons Massa.
"He has to, because if he is not patient and humble, it can be a negative point," insisted the eleven-time Grand Prix winner.
"You must have a lot of patience, work more than anybody else, this is what champions do."