Mercedes is making strides - Is George Russell good enough to win?


mercedes is getting better in F1 but can George Russell win?
11 June at 19:00
  • Ludo van Denderen

Toto Wolff knew that a pole in Canada was a positive result for the Mercedes team. Points, however, are of course only distributed at the Grand Prix on Sunday. Although Mercedes couldn't convert the pole into a race victory, things are going in the right direction for the German team. 

Although George Russell did drive to the podium (the first for Mercedes of the season) in Montreal on Sunday after starting first, there was a bitter aftertaste. Indeed, victory had been up for grabs, but Russell proved no match for Max Verstappen - even though he had been in the lead at the start of the race, a few mistakes meant Russell eventually had to settle for third place, on a day when there could have been much more in it for Mercedes.

Over the past few months, Wolff, Russell and Lewis Hamilton talked constantly about updates. Hard work was being done at the factory and updates were coming, they said. After the Canadian Grand Prix, it is tempting to say that the German team has found the correct direction, as in terms of speed - especially over one lap - Mercedes was unmatched in Montreal.

Does George Russell make too many mistakes?

As strong as the car was, the performances of Russell and Hamilton last weekend weren't perfect. The former said critically afterwards: "It was just one too many mistakes at key moments that cost a shot of fighting with these two towards the end of the race."

Russell has been reckoned as a future world champion for years, but at decisive moments he often fails to deliver. From the sidelines, Russell seems to lack what Verstappen or nowadays Lando Norris do have: a killer instinct and the will to win at all costs. Rather, there are doubts. Someone who is constantly apologising towards the team or commenting on his own mistakes. "I felt like I let the team down a bit, just losing sight of Max and a few mistakes that put me in that position in the first place," Russell said, for example.

Would've Verstappen won with the Mercedes in Canada?

Is this the man who will bring Mercedes another world title? Is this the man to drive an ever-improving Mercedes car to a GP victory? At the same time, Russell does manage to be superior to his more experienced teammate Lewis Hamilton and has been for almost the entire season. Only in one race this season did the seven-time champion manage to finish above Russell.

For a long time, the assumption was that it was mainly the qualities of the W15 that stood in Mercedes' way. Canada suggests that it may just be the drivers who stand in the way of a final step up. A conundrum: Would Max Verstappen have won the Canadian Grand Prix with that Mercedes last weekend too?