George Russell says he is not thinking about a Mercedes seat

© LAT Images for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd

George Russell says he doesn’t “like to think about the future” and is focused on ‘giving his absolute all’ to Williams in 2021.

Amid rumours of a possible Mercedes seat in an unlikely scenario of Lewis Hamilton not signing a contract extension, George Russell says he is completely focused on Williams for 2021. In an exclusive interview, Autosport asked the Briton if Mercedes has put any targets in front of him for 2021.

“No, they’ve not said what I need to do,” Russell explained.

“At the moment I’m just respectful to everybody at Williams and I will just be giving my absolute all for that team, as they have done for me for the last two years.

“I don’t like to think about the future. This sport changes incredibly quickly, people’s perception of drivers – your reputation… And outside factors, as we’ve seen [are also an influence]”

As a Mercedes junior driver, Russell was drafted to replace Lewis Hamilton in the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix, after the seven-time champion tested positive for COVID-19.

The young Briton says he couldn’t have even imagined he would get an opportunity to drive a race in a Mercedes in 2020.

“Nobody could have predicted the events that happened. Telling me in the middle of the year that I’d have been leading the race, and that I should have won a race this year, and starting in the front row – because I didn’t even think it would be possible to be…

“I didn’t even think it was possible to get the chance for Mercedes, as a reserve driver. We’d spoken about this in the past and it was a ‘no go’.

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“But fortunately, the new owners were very open, and they wanted to give me that opportunity. Potentially, to see how I would perform as well.

“So I didn’t even think that possibility [was realistic] even if Lewis or Valtteri were to miss a race. I didn’t think it would be possible anyway.”

Russell ultimately missed out on a race win due to a pit stop mix-up and a tyre puncture. However, he says this is not something he continues to worry about.

“It’s not eating me up inside, because I see the race almost was a victory in itself with how everything panned out.

“That’s what I’m trying to tell myself anyway to get over the disappointment of losing it!

“I think the pitstop fiasco almost gave me that opportunity to go out there and show what I can do in a very difficult circumstance – when the pressure is high.

“We had the race well and truly under control, and then suddenly, I’m back in fifth and I’ve got my team-mate ahead of me in the same car as me, who I knew was going to be incredibly tricky to overtake,” concluded Russell.

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