George Russell 'gutted' to miss out on Sakhir GP victory
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Rising Formula One star George Russell says he’s had no promises from team boss Toto Wolff about his future at Mercedes.
The Williams driver has been facing mounting speculation about a move to the Silver Arrows in 2022, after impressing hugely when stepping in for Lewis Hamilton last season at the Sakhir Grand Prix.
Russell is about to start his final season of a three-year deal with Williams, after that he will be a free agent.
Meanwhile, both of the current Mercedes drivers, seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, are both out of contract at the end of the year.
When asked about his relationship with the championship winning team, the Mercedes junior driver said he remained in the dark.
“Toto [Wolff] has always given me his word, and he has always given me the opportunity when they believe I deserve it,” Russell said.
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“They’ve told me that I am a part of their future, whenever that may be.
“It’s when they believe the time is right. I think a lot of people think next year is the natural path, but equally things change very, very quickly in motorsport, especially in Formula One.
“I’m not even thinking about it to be honest.”
Russell, without any real prior experience in a Mercedes, was promoted to the top team at Bahrain last December, catching the attention of many team bosses.
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The Briton impressed by qualifying P2 on debut in place of Hamilton, who was recovering from COVID-19.
During the race he swept past team-mate Bottas off the line into Turn 1, leading a Formula One race for the first time in his life.
The success was cut short, after a Mercedes pitstop blunder, followed by a puncture, which ended any hopes of a debut win for Russell.
He said: “Obviously I had a taste of life at the front of the grid last year, but I’m just focused on the here and now, focused on Bahrain.
“If I perform on track and I deliver continually on the same path and progress I’ve been on so far, I guess in the future the opportunity will come but I’m not thinking about it and no promises have been made.”
Russell adds that his goal isn’t necessarily to make himself indispensable to Mercedes.
“I think my target is just to perform to the absolute best of my ability, week in, week out,” he explained.
“That is what I’ve been doing, or trying to do, ever since I was eight years old starting in go-karting.
“What comes from that is out of my hands. All I can control is how I perform on track.
“I have had some fantastic opportunities in the past, obviously the Bahrain race last year.
“Getting my opportunity into Formula One with Williams in the first place, the support of Mercedes.
“That’s come from controlling what I can control, and that’s how I get on, how I perform on track – and that is not going to change.”
Speaking at the Williams car launch on Friday, alongside team-mate Nicholas Latifi, the 23-year-old was positive about the upcoming season, despite Williams finishing bottom of the drivers’ standings for three years running.
Russell is in the final year of his Williams contract, but what if there is no Mercedes offer on the table at the end of the season?
“First and foremost, I am a Williams driver this year, and there’s a lot of speculation and thoughts ahead of the 2022 season, if what most of you guys are speculating were not to happen, it’s an interesting position for me,” he said.
“As it currently stands, with the whole investment from Dorilton, the changes I’ve already seen taking place at Williams, Williams have finished last in the constructors for the past three season, I don’t think that will be the case for 2022.
“I see a very bright future here, and there’s a massive opportunity for every team in F1 for 2022.”
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