Russell: “You want to go against the best, and Lewis is the best”

© Steve Etherington for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

George Russell says he wants his future to be decided “by the summer break”, while Toto Wolff says he would pick the young Briton as Mercedes’ third driver.

George Russell’s three-year deal with Williams expires at the end of 2021, and the young Briton feels ready for the next step of his career. Naturally, as a Mercedes junior driver, he wouldn’t mind “a promotion” to the German team.

“I think, naturally, we all want something decided either way by the summer break, really,” Russell told Autosport.

“I think it’s in everybody’s best interests. But to be honest, I’m really not pushing the subject with anybody really – with Mercedes, with Williams.

“Because I am purely just focused on my job here. And I know that, as I’ve always said, if I perform to my potential [that I] believe I’m capable of, you’re putting yourself in the shop window.

“And I think that race in Bahrain [the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix where he replaced Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes] gave me a unique opportunity to almost prove it.

“Whereas, prior to that, it was always a small unknown – because of the situation I found myself in [with Williams].

“So, I’m really not pushing the subject. Just enjoying every single race, enjoying where I find myself.

“But I think it’s really exciting that Lewis has openly been talking about the next couple of years. And it’s clear that he’s still performing at an incredibly high level.

“I think it will be amazing for the sport, and for Mercedes, if he were to continue. And obviously, as any young driver, you want to go against the best, and Lewis is the best.”

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Russell’s career is also managed by Mercedes, so the manufacturer will be responsible for finding him a racing seat if they decide not to ‘promote’ him to their main outfit.

“I mean, obviously, there’s a lot of talk about a promotion to, or ‘a move’, I should say, to Mercedes.

“But I think for all of us at the end of the day – Mercedes do manage me, and they do want the best for my career. They are in a unique position, in that sense.

“But they just want the best for me. And if they believe I deserve the opportunity, then it’ll be there. If they don’t believe I deserve it, then they will find me a seat somewhere where I can continue to develop.

“But I feel like I’m ready to fight for world championships and fight for victories. I feel ready right now to be able to do that, let alone with another year under my belt by the end of this season.

“So, wherever I find myself next year, I want to be in a car that will give me the chance to win races.

“Because I didn’t fight my whole career to get to F1 to be fighting for 15th and 16th. I fought my whole career to get here and to win.

“And that’s what I’m so focused more than ever on doing,” concluded Russell.

Interestingly enough, in a new Formula 1 Grill the Grid video, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff was asked which of the current Formula 1 drivers would he put in a third car, and he only said: “George Russell”.

We’ll see if that means anything when it comes to Mercedes’ 2022 line-up.

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