Mercedes star George Russell has taken a sly dig at Sergio Perez by claiming Red Bull ace Max Verstappen might not win so many Grands Prix if he had a different team-mate. Verstappen has already secured the 2022 F1 world title after winning his maiden championship last year.
Verstappen became F1’s youngest ever competitor at the age of 17 when he lined-up for Toro Rosso at the 2015 Australian Grand Prix. And he then became the youngest ever race winner when he tasted victory at the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix after being promoted to the Red Bull team.
Verstappen was joined by Perez at the drinks giant at the start of 2021, following three full seasons driving alongside Daniel Ricciardo and two years racing with Alex Albon. Perez has only ever won three races with Red Bull, however. And Russell believes Verstappen would have been denied some of his victories if his Mexican team-mate was more competitive, pointing towards the tussles Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg endured during their time together at Mercedes.
“We know how strong Max is and Red Bull just did a really good job,” Russell said as he spoke about Verstappen’s 14th race victory of the season at last weekend’s Mexican Grand Prix.
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Hamilton and Rosberg spent four seasons as team-mates at Mercedes between 2013 and 2016. Hamilton won back-to-back F1 titles in 2014 and 2015, with Rosberg lifting the trophy at the end of the 2016 season.
But even when Hamilton came out on top, Rosberg still made him work for his glory. During the 2014 season, the German driver won five races before finishing second in the standings. And he won six more races on his way to another second-place finish the following year. Rosberg then tasted race success on nine occasions as he finally landed his only F1 championship in 2016, before leaving Mercedes at the end of that season.
Hamilton welcomed Russell to Mercedes at the start of this season as his new team-mate, with Valtteri Bottas making way for the 24-year-old. But the Silver Arrows have struggled for form this year and neither one of the blockbuster stars has been able to win a single Grand Prix this term.