Yewti- George Russell believes seven-time F1 champion team-mate Lewis Hamilton is finally back up to speed after his early-season struggles at Mercedes.
Lewis Hamilton has been off the pace this season due to a new set of regulations which has resulted in his W13 suffering from either aerodynamic porpoising or bouncing due to it being too stiff.
Although there was an early podium in the season-opening race in Bahrain, Lewis Hamilton then remarkably finished behind Russell at the following seven grands prix.
Lewis Hamilton has since shown signs of finding performance and greater stability with his car after clinching a trio of consecutive third-place finishes at the last three races in Canada, Silverstone and Austria.
At the Red Bull Ring, Hamilton also appeared set to challenge for pole position in the Friday qualifying until a crash in the final session.
Assessing what he has seen from Hamilton most recently, and speaking prior to the race in Austria, Russell said: “As drivers, you want to finish ahead of everybody and that includes your team-mate.
“I knew the challenge I faced ahead of the season, going up against Lewis and I’ve seen first-hand just how great he is.
“In any sport, you often get into a bit of a groove, a bit of a rhythm and things seemingly go for you or against you and I obviously had quite a good run.
“Those first nine races – maybe eight races – I’d say were pretty good. The last two races [before Austria] were a bit trickier for me.
“But we’ve seen in those last couple of races just how fast Lewis is.”
Russell not getting carried away with Mercedes speed
At Silverstone, Mercedes was again able to mix it with the top two teams this year in Red Bull and Ferrari, with Hamilton shaping up to challenge for a victory before a late safety car handed the advantage back to his rivals.
Although Mercedes has made promising steps, a cautious Russell warned: “I don’t think we want to get too carried away because Silverstone is a very unique circuit in the sense of the speeds you’re going through those corners.
“We clearly have a lot of downforce and good potential at a circuit like Silverstone.”
In Austria, Russell was involved in a lap-one incident with Red Bull’s Sergio Perez for which he received a five-second time penalty and a new front wing.
The Briton emerged 19th after the triple-whammy but recovered to finish in the same position he started in fourth.
Assessing such a circuitous route to the 12 points, Russell said: “Yeah, it was a bit frustrating to have the incident at turn four and obviously, I lost a huge amount of lap time with the damage, probably a second a lap.
“Then to find out I’d got the penalty, then the front wing change, a 20-second long pit stop, I guess it wasn’t bad in the end to finish where we did and to come back through the traffic a minute behind the leader – although they obviously did an extra pit stop.”