Nico Rosberg has his say on the Lewis Hamilton-George Russell battle; Max Verstappen holding off Carlos Sainz in Canada; and the “super spectacular” Fernando Alonso – next up for F1 is the British Grand Prix with all sessions live on Sky Sports F1 across July 1-3
Last Updated: 20/06/22 11:46pm
Nico Rosberg says George Russell has been “phenomenal” in a trying F1 season for Mercedes so far – but warned him that Lewis Hamilton “hates” to lose to team-mates.
Russell sits fourth in the Drivers’ Championship on 111 points – 34 points ahead of sixth-placed Hamilton, who branded his car “undriveable” on Friday practice ahead of last weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix.
Russell has finished ahead of fellow Brit Hamilton in seven of the nine races this term, with Hamilton’s podium finish in Montreal the first time he has topped Russell since the opening round in Bahrain.
Russell also leads the qualifying head-to-head 5-4.
Speaking on Any Driven Monday, 2016 world champion and Hamilton’s former team-mate, Rosberg said: “George has done an awesome job, phenomenal with how difficult that car has been to drive.
“To be so consistent, driving so well, not making any mistakes, always getting the maximum out of it, he has been brilliant.
“On Saturday, one would think, ‘okay, keep it safe, bring home another P4 or P5 in qualifying’ but no. He said, ‘I am going to put my slicks on, I only care about pole position’. That is really awesome.
‘Hamilton delivered in Canada; Merc making progress’
“Lewis is driving at his best. He has just had an unbelievably unlucky season with all these different things going against him. This was a normal weekend and he delivered in the usual awesome way.
“That driver pairing is so strong, incredible, but, make no mistake, Lewis hates passionately to ever come second to a team-mate, so he will be ultra-motivated and pushing hard internally.
“The [Mercedes] car in the race was really decent. I thought it was so awesome how George right after the start made headway, passing one car after another down into the hairpin.
“I think they are making progress but there is still some way to go to Ferrari and Red Bull. They can’t win at Silverstone, they are still too far away.”
Hamilton finished behind race winner Max Verstappen and second-placed Carlos Sainz in Canada, with championship leader and reigning world champion Verstappen fending off a late challenge from Ferrari man Sainz after a safety car, despite being on aging tyres.
Verstappen is now toasting back-to-back race wins after triumphing in Azerbaijan a week earlier.
Does Sainz have what it takes to be world champion?
Rosberg said: “It has been a couple of super-impressive races from Max. He is so confident and driving at such an impressive level.
“He drove to perfection in difficult circumstances in qualifying and the pressure from Sainz in the race is not to be underestimated.
“Inside the car it is a horrible feeling. You have done everything perfectly and then because of the safety car you suddenly have the Ferrari behind you in a triple DRS zone putting so much pressure on.
“If you make the slightest of mistakes, he is through but Max managed that so perfectly.
“Sainz has got it in him to be a good, decent driver within Ferrari but at the moment he has not got it in him to be a world champion. On performance, Charles Leclerc has been outdriving him every single race this year.
“He still needs to find quite a bit of progress which comes as quite a surprise after last year. Of course, the car is completely different so maybe it takes him more time to get on top of things.”
Rosberg: Alonso more than deserves his seat
Alpine’s Fernando Alonso started the race in second after claiming his first front row in 10 years but ultimately finished ninth after technical issues and, according to Rosberg, questionable strategy from his team.
Still, the 40-year-old now has four top-10s in a row and Rosberg shrugged off any notion that the two-time world champion is taking up a younger driver’s seat.
Rosberg said of the Spaniard, who won his titles with Renault in 2005 and 2006: “I am a big fan of Alonso at the moment. We all know that talent and skill-wise he is one of the best of all time.
“He sometimes lacked that social competence – he often had difficulties being in the best teams with the best cars. They didn’t really want him anymore because of burning bridges in the past.
“That was definitely one of his weaknesses in terms of getting even better results but in terms of talent he is surely one of the best of all time or right up there.
“For him to still drive like this is just so cool. I was so gutted for him [in Canada], I wanted him to be on the podium. I think Alpine did a little mistake, they could have taken a jump into the pitlane.
“He is driving so awesomely there shouldn’t be any discussion that he is taking up anyone’s seat. He more than deserves to be where he is.
“It’s super spectacular the way he is driving, the fans all over the world are loving it and he is a great asset to the Alpine team.”