Williams CEO Jost Capito says the difference between George Russell and Nicholas Latifi is “not as big as everyone believes” ahead of the Briton’s departure.
Russell has spearheaded Williams’ challenge across the past three years amid its slump in form, and recent revival, and has not yet been beaten by a team-mate during qualifying.
Russell has scored 15 points to Latifi’s seven this year with all of their respective points finishes coming in the last four grands prix.
Russell will depart for Mercedes at the end of the season while Latifi will stay on for a third season, alongside ex-Red Bull racer Alexander Albon.
“When you see in qualifying [at Monza] Nicky was missing four hundredths of a second [to Russell], you can’t say we have a huge gap between George and Nicky in quali, and in the racing as well, when you look at Hungary at the race Nicky did a fantastic job,” said Capito.
“I don’t think the gap is as big as everybody believes or it looks.
“He had a couple of issues in quali this season, Nicky, that were not caused by him and he would have been in a position to be nearly at the speed or at the speed of George.”
Russell also heaped praise on Latifi and said the 26-year-old merited points in Italy.
Latifi had run ahead of Russell during the first stint of the race before their fortunes reversed due to the timing of the Safety Car.
“Nicholas did an extraordinary job to be honest, he deserved to be in the points,” said Russell.
“He’s really getting stronger and stronger week-in, week-out, finding a lot of confidence and he’s really doing a good job.
“He retained his seat on absolute merit this year, so I’ve got a lot of respect for how he’s working and going about his business and how he’s trying to improve. As I said he is truly doing a very, very good job.”