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Red Bull question Russell's race pace ahead of Mercedes debut

Red Bull question Russell's race pace ahead of Mercedes debut

Red Bull question Russell's race pace ahead of Mercedes debut

Red Bull question Russell's race pace ahead of Mercedes debut
GPFans Staff

George Russell's race pace has been questioned ahead of the Briton embarking on his first season with Mercedes.

After three seasons learning F1 with Williams, Russell finally earned the promotion he had long been hoping for and is now set to partner Lewis Hamilton at the reigning constructors' championships.

During his time with Williams, Russell received considerable plaudits for his displays, notably in qualifying that earned him the nickname of 'Mr Saturday' such were his efforts in regularly reaching Q2.

Two-time champion Fernando Alonso even expressed his admiration for the way Russell performed across many grand prix weekends.

There does, however, remain a degree of scepticism in some quarters as to whether Russell can consistently perform on any given Sunday.

Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko is one of those who has his doubts.

"Now let's see what Mr Russell will do at Mercedes and whether the praise he has received in advance is justified," remarked Marko to Autorevue. "I want to see that first.

"There's no discussion in qualifying, he's sensational there but if you look at his race speed, he wasn't far ahead of [then Williams team-mate Nicholas] Latifi."

One driver who caught Marko's eye last season was Carlos Sainz who, in his first year with Ferrari following a move from McLaren, finished ahead of team-mate Charles Leclerc in the drivers' standings.

Marko has revealed it was a close call between Sainz and Verstappen as to who earned promotion from Toro Rosso to Red Bull in 2016 when the latter opted to replace Daniil Kvyat.

"Sainz was unlucky to meet Verstappen in that deciding moment," added Marko.

"We had already seen at the first test at Silverstone that he was super fast right away. He was almost on the same level as Verstappen - nearly.

"But when we then had the choice between Verstappen and Sainz, it was clear. Both were disappointed - but the father the most!

"Sainz is definitely one of the top people. He has proven that."

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