Williams’ head of vehicle performance Dave Robson who worked with Lewis Hamilton at McLaren sees similarities between the Mercedes star’s special qualities and the outstanding talent of George Russell.
Robson had a front row seat to witness Hamilton’s flourishing, first as a junior driver involved with McLaren and then as fully fledged member of the Woking-based outfit in F1.
As a highly rated Mercedes protégé, Russell is currently seen as Hamilton’s natural successor at the Brackley squad, and Robson is convinced the 23-year-old fits the bill just as the seven-time world champion during his early days at McLaren.
“I think there are definitely some similarities there,” said Robson. “And they were obvious from the first time I met George and we ran him in the simulator in Grove.
“Then we went up and ran him around the airfield in a road car. Again, there was something. There was something there.
“I think the talent is there. I think he is very close to Lewis and has the potential to get there. For sure.”
As Jenson Button’s race engineer at McLaren, Robson competed against Hamilton from 2010 to 2012. But the Williams engineer identified early on a “special quality” about the Briton, whom he described as “an annoying customer” to have on the other side of the garage.
“I’ve obviously not worked with him for quite a few years, but it’s something he’s always had, I think,” said Robson who called Hamilton’s recent 100-pole record a “phenomenal achievement”.
“There is just that something about him. That special quality that you can’t really define.
“That was obvious right from when he was just a kid and [McLaren] took him testing at Elvington [airfield, for a straight-line aerodynamic test run] – going up and down the runway.
“He was bored stiff after 10 minutes. Whereas most kids, when you took them to Elvington, they were just chuffed to bits to be in an F1 car – even though they were just going up and down the runway.
“And he was different right from the beginning. He just has that talent and that tremendous attitude. So, take your hat off to him.
“He’s an annoying customer to have on the other side of the garage, for sure. But yeah, he’s a phenomenal talent.”
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