George Russell has nothing to worry about. He already has a Mercedes contract in his pocket for 2022. It’s just a matter of when Mercedes decides what it needs to decide.
Will George stay with Williams for another season, or will he step up to be Lewis Hamilton’s team-mate in the world championship-winning team? He’s managed by Mercedes, which means that he doesn’t need to convince them…
“I think that is a fair assessment,” George says. “I’ve been part of Mercedes since 2016 and I have probably done over 100 days on the simulator for them in the course of the years before I joined Williams. And I am in constant communication with them after every single race, so it is a bit of a strange position, because they ultimately choose where I can race. The buck stops with them - but obviously it is in my hands to do a good job to show what I can do.”
No one is saying anything officially, for the moment. Valtteri Bottas is still chasing big results to try to secure the seat for another season, but it makes less and less sense with each year. At some point, Lewis Hamilton is going to retire – and Mercedes doesn’t want to be caught out. And remember, it’s happened before. Back in 2016, Nico Rosberg won the world championship, beating Hamilton, and he knew that he’d probably never do it again – and he retired. Mercedes was left scrambling for a driver. Bottas was the man, but it took a while for him to get comfortable in the team. If Hamilton goes, Mercedes wants a team leader ready to go.
Bottas is a very competitive individual and his only 'crime' is to be partnered by Hamilton, the greatest Formula 1 driver of all time, at least statistically. Russell doesn’t seem too worried about going up against Lewis.
“Everyone wants to go up against the best driver,” George says. “Everyone believes in themselves, but for me, I’d love that challenge because the pressure would be off and I’d find myself in a win-win scenario. I’d go in with that mentality if I ever found myself up against one of the best drivers of all time. You have got nothing to lose - which I think is great really. That is the sort of situation that Sergio Perez finds himself in at the moment. He’s got no pressure because he’s got nothing to lose - and so you go out there and enjoy it, and show them what you can do.”