Rosberg: Russell supremacy over Hamilton at Imola 'overlooked'


Nico Rosberg says George Russell significantly outperforming Lewis Hamilton at Imola was an event that was "overlooked" because of where the Mercedes drivers are running in F1's pecking order.

Russell finished the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in fourth position, the Briton achieving his fourth consecutive top-five finish for Mercedes this season.

Meanwhile, Hamilton, who was out qualified and outpaced in the sprint race by his teammate, spent his afternoon in Italy buried deep in the midfield pack, running behind Alex Albon and Pierre Gasly as the third element in a DRS train from which he never succeeded in extricating himself.

Rosberg suggests that Mercedes' struggles to get on top of the problems impacting its new-generation car are likely a big source of frustration for Russell, who expected to be gunning for race wins with the championship winning outfit.

But until the Brackley squad turns around its fortunes, beating Hamilton is certainly no trivial affair for Russell insists Rosberg.

"For George, it will be a big disappointment because he was going into the season thinking he would be able to race for wins, maybe even a championship, so this is a big setback for him," Rosberg told Sky F1 last weekend.

"Nevertheless, he is still very young and for him there is still the giant opportunity to beat - with the same car - the best of all time, it doesn’t matter where they are in the end.

"That is so important for George, to be very close to Lewis, to beat him as much as possible, because it will really dictate how the rest of his career will go if Mercedes keep him on and things like that."

And Rosberg was mighty impressed with Russell's superior pace ad race performance last Sunday at Imola.

"We have to say he did so brilliantly throughout the weekend at Imola, which was the first time this year he really dominated Lewis and we are really overlooking that because of where they were.

"But we need to see he was like four tenths quicker than Lewis all weekend and ahead of him all weekend, which was really an awesome job by George and the first time we really saw this potential World Championship level of driving from him."

For Rosberg, Russell's results in the opening races of 2022 have validated once and for all Mercedes' decision to promote its protégé to its works squad.

"It was very risky to take George and replace Bottas with him because George is such an unknown, but we can say now already it was a brilliant choice," said the 2016 F1 World Champion.

"George has been so mature and delivered the maximum points possible with this car."

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