Horner tells Mercedes: ‘Go on, give Russell a go’

Mark Scott
George Russell Valtteri Bottas

Christian Horner has told his rival boss Toto Wolff that the time has come to put George Russell in a Mercedes car having “served his apprenticeship”.

Russell has been waiting in the wings at Williams for the past three seasons and has continuously impressed despite being in a car which has raced almost exclusively at the back of the grid.

The British driver only strengthened his case for a Mercedes seat after excelling at such short notice in the W11 when he stood in for Lewis Hamilton, his new potential team-mate, at the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix when the seven-time World Champion was ruled out after testing positive for Covid-19.

It appears it is a case of ‘when’ Russell signs for Mercedes next season rather than ‘if’, but Russell himself has said there will be no such announcement made at his home Grand Prix this weekend at Silverstone.

With no confirmation as of yet, that is creating more opportunity for others to talk about Russell, namely Red Bull. Helmut Marko has recently stated that Red Bull would consider signing Russell if Mercedes don’t.

And Horner has reiterated that stance, but does not think Russell will be on the market to sign. Instead, he actually urged Wolff to put Russell in the Silver Arrows seat in 2022.

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“If George was on the open market then I think a lot of teams would want to snap him up,” Horner told Sky Sports F1.

“He’s a great, young talent but he is under contract to Mercedes and I’m sure they have a clear plan for him.

“He’s going to be champing at the bit to get his chance now. I think he has served his apprenticeship and he’s obviously ready for that next step.

“You would be foolish not to look at him but I don’t believe that [Russell being on the market] is the case because of his agreement with Mercedes.

“But he needs that chance and opportunity now and Toto should give him a go. Lewis [Hamilton] and George would be a strong dynamic and it would be great for British motorsport.

“He’s served his apprenticeship now.”

As for Red Bull’s 2022 driver line-up, Horner has said the team are happy with the job Sergio Perez is doing – but would not be drawn on any specifics as to when a new contract would be signed.

Horner stated: “Checo is doing a great job and doing exactly what we asked from him. He’s scored a podium, won a race so far and third in the World Championship.

“He’s doing a fantastic job but we’re not at that halfway spot in the Championship yet. But I think everyone at the team is content and happy with what he is doing and his role as team player as well.”

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