McLaren Formula 1 driver Lando Norris says he is happy to see friend and rival George Russell make an impact with a much-improved Williams team.
Russell was 12th in the wet qualifying session for the Styrian GP at the Red Bull Ring, and then repeated that outcome in a dry session in Hungary last weekend.
He had little luck in either race, with an early off in the Styrian event and a poor start in Hungary hampering his chances, but nevertheless his qualifying performances have been a timely reminder of his talent.
When asked for his thoughts on Russell’s season by Autosport, Norris replied: “I’m definitely happy for him, that he’s at least having a chance to be able to race with some people.”
“I felt sorry for him last year, because he’s a nice guy, I get along well with him. He’s a very good driver.
“So where Williams were last season, it’s just disappointing to see him in that position.
“Williams in pre-season testing already made a big jump, and they looked pretty competitive from the off.
“They weren’t that far off of what we could do. So we were always expecting them to be quite quick [in Hungary].
“In all of our calculations we will expect them to be a competitor and people that could knock us out come Q2 or Q3, even.
“He obviously did a good job anyway.”
Norris noted the inexperience of Russell’s team-mate Nicholas Latifi, who stepped up to F1 for this season after a spell with DAMS in Formula 2, and suggested that it would difficult to properly assess Russell’s performances this season.
Latifi also made the cut to bring both Williams cars into the second part of qualifying for the first time since the 2018 Italian Grand Prix.
“He is going up against a driver who’s still in the second or third race in F1,” Norris added.
“It’s hard to really compare and know how good he’s doing.
“He’s not going up against a driver who’s been in F1 for four years or five years.
“So yeah, I guess that’s the only thing that’s hard to say how good of a job he’s doing.
“But at the same time it’s good to see that he’s up there, and Williams are back, competing for positions.”