Formula 1

Fernando Alonso delivers George Russell verdict amid Mercedes and Valtteri Bottas rumours

George Russell was hailed as a ‘future world champ’ by none other than Fernando Alonso as the two drivers swapped helmets after Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix. The race was won by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who leapfrogged Lewis Hamilton in the Drivers’ Championship order for the first time in his career as a result.

Mercedes were also pegged back in the Constructors’ Championship, capping off a torrid weekend for the Silver Arrows in the principality.

Hamilton could only manage to cross the line in seventh place, with AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly holding the Stevenage-born racer at arm’s length throughout, while team-mate Valtteri Bottas was forced to retire through no fault of his own.

The Finn’s pit crew were unable to dislodge his front right tyre during a routine stop, with the wheel nut simply refusing to budge despite their best efforts.

The incident represented another disappointing setback for Bottas, who now finds himself with a mountain to climb in this year’s Drivers’ Championship battle after just five races.

His future at Mercedes appears to be under threat, with his contract set to expire at the end of the season and Russell tipped by many to be handed a Silver Arrows race seat next year.

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The Williams man has established himself as one of F1’s most exciting young talents over the last two years and is widely expected to challenge for future titles.

Two-time champion Alonso appears to share this view, making his feelings known via a written message on his helmet before exchanging with Russell after Sunday’s race.

“George, you rock! Future world champ,” wrote the Spaniard, who crossed the line in 13th to extend his wait for a first point since returning to the grid with Alpine this year.

Russell took to Twitter to thank his fellow competitor, admitting: “This one means a lot. Gracias, legend.”

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Sunday’s helmet swap was not the first occasion on which Alonso has showered the King’s Lynn native with high praise.

He waxed lyrical over Russell’s consistency back in October of last year, claiming that the Williams man stands head and shoulders above the rest of F1’s young contingent in terms of outright ability.

“I think there are very talented drivers now in Formula 1,” Alonso told Sky Sports.

“They all came with very nice preparation as well with driver academies that build the performance and the talent, helping them from a very young age. Now they are doing their job.

“From all of them, George Russell is the one that surprises me every weekend. How he’s driving the Williams. Zero mistakes. I’m really surprised about his natural speed.

“So if I have to say one name, Russell for the future is going to be my pick.”

Russell has qualified above his Williams team-mate at every Grand Prix he has participated in, with Robert Kubica failing to lay a glove on him in 2019 before Nicholas Latifi’s arrival a year later.

The latter has also been unable to beat the Brit over one lap, which bears testament to his formidable prowess behind the wheel.


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