Red Bull Racing advisor Helmut Marko first took aim at former Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas labelling the Finn "a loser" while comparing him to Sergio Perez, and has now questioned the quality of George Russell. The young Briton will replace Bottas at Mercedes for the 2022 season and beyond after spending three seasons with Williams.

Russell has been part of the Mercedes team since before his Formula 1 debut, but has had to wait for three seasons to be handed a drive with the Silver Arrows team. He spent the last three seasons with back-markers Williams F1, but has proven himself with a number of impressive drives for the Grove-based outfit.

The 23-year-old has been aptly nicknamed "Mr. Saturday" owing to his impressive performances in qualifying, especially during the 2021 campaign. He out-qualified soon-to-be new teammate Lewis Hamilton at the Belgian Grand Prix in a Williams car that has brought up the back of the grid in recent campaigns.

However, Marko, feels that while Russell is an ace when it comes to qualifying, his race pace was not very impressive compared to last year's teammate Nicholas Latifi. The Briton out-qualified the Canadian 20-2 last season, while also finishing ahead of him in 14 races.

George Russell
British driver George Russell is joining F1 team Mercedes in 2022 Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD/AFP

"Now let's see what Mr. Russell will do at Mercedes and whether the praise he has received in advance is justified," Marko said, as quoted on Planet F1. "I want to see that first."

"There's no discussion in qualifying, he's sensational there but if you look at his race speed, he wasn't far ahead of [then Williams team-mate Nicholas] Latifi."

If not for a team mistake by Mercedes, Russell would have had his first victory under his belt at the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix. The British racer was deputising for Hamilton after the seven-time champion had contracted Covid-19. The former Williams driver is widely expected to challenge his veteran teammate for race wins in 2022 having shown his ability with Williams in recent campaigns.

Lewis Hamilton
Back in business: Lewis Hamilton will race in the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Giuseppe CACACE/POOL