George Russell defended by David Coulthard with Mercedes after podium-less start to season

What’s gone wrong with Mercedes and can they recover?

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George Russell has earned the praises of David Coulthard – with the Scot touting him as an ‘all round package’. And Coulthard has defended the 24-year-old for Mercedes’ poor start to the season after claiming that he has handled his sides’ inability to match Ferrari and Red Bull.

Russell joined Mercedes at the start of the season after three impressive years at Williams. The Brit has done well in his first two races for the Silver Arrows, coming fourth and fifth in the Bahrain and Saudi Arabia Grand Prixs respectively – his best ever finishes in the sport.

But despite his strong showings, the King’s Lynn-born star has taken some flak for being unable to keep up with runaway leaders Ferrari and the ever-impressive Red Bull. And Coulthard has backed the prodigy, claiming that his team’s car this season is not up to standard – and that Russell has done well to keep up the pace.

“What’s actually happened is that Ferrari and Red Bull have come flying out of the blocks and there are some who might judge that George’s first couple of races have not been up to standard,” Coulthard told the Sunday Mirror. “I wouldn’t agree with that. I think he’s handled the car and the situation well.

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“I’ve been super-impressed – George has performed in line with my expectations.” The Silver Arrows were expected to have Lewis Hamilton challenging for the title after he lost out in controversial circumstances on the final race of last season.

But it has been Russell who has bettered his fellow countryman, sitting ahead of his tame-mate in the Drivers’ standings. And Coulthard described the star as an ‘all-round package’ as he continues to impress.

He added: “For me, he’s a brilliant all-round package. He has speed, he has excellent communication skills. He’s a modern version of a top professional racing driver. I thought that before the season started and I’ve seen nothing since to change my mind.

“But the honeymoon period where you can do no wrong changes quickly, particularly when there’s an expectation that – given the car you are driving – you should be in the top three.”

The next race of the season falls in Australia on April 10. And Russell will look to better the 16th-place finish he earned there in 2019 on his first ever outing in Formula One.

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