Former Formula 1 driver David Coulthard believes George Russell will eventually benefit from Williams’ struggles, because it is giving the Britain a chance to learn without having to do it under the spotlight.
Formula 2 champion Russell joined F1 last year to spend his rookie season with Williams, however the team hit a particularly low point in an already difficult period, which has almost guaranteed that Russell would qualify on the back row every weekend alongside then team-mate Robert Kubica.
The duo have therefore had to fight one another, rather than the rest of the field. Russell enjoyed a qualifying whitewash over Kubica, qualifying ahead in all 21 races although the Polish driver finished ahead in the standings, thanks to a sole point scored in Germany.
Russell has been retained for 2020, which will likely mean another season at the back, but Coulthard isn’t worried for the 21-year-old’s future prospects, believing his talent and his connection to Mercedes will be enough to ensure he enjoys a long career in F1.
“I think he’s a great talent who is cutting his teeth in Formula 1 largely off screen – he’s so good that he doesn’t even crash to get himself on television,” commented Coulthard during a visit to Autosport International at the weekend.
“His talent is so strong that, with his relationship with Mercedes, I think it will be fine.
“He had a benchmark driver [Kubica] in terms of speed, and George showed consistently that the key thing was being able to qualify.
“He just showed time and time again that, irrespective of the car, when the pressure was on to deliver a lap time, he was able to do that.”
Coulthard thinks Russell will benefit long-term from a couple of seasons in a lower team, which will better prepare him for a championship battle against the likes of Charles Leclerc, Max Verstappen, Lando Norris and Alexander Albon.
“I have absolutely no doubt that, being a little bit out of the spotlight was just really giving him a little bit of time to understand F1.
“He’s a young man right now and there’s no question that in a few years he’ll be more able physically and mentally to take on the challenge of a competitive F1 season.”