George Russell admits that whilst he has total faith in himself, joining Mercedes in 2021 and trying to compete with Lewis Hamilton would have been a “tall order”.
Russell has been part of the Mercedes junior programme since 2016 and has risen sharply through the junior series with their backing, winning the GP3 and F2 titles back-to-back in 2017 and 2018, before graduating to Formula 1 with Williams in 2019.
The Briton showed signs of being a star for the future in 2019 despite being unable to score any points in the disappointing FW42, but with Williams this year taking a step forward Russell has already been knocking on the door of Q3 twice, having failed to make it out of Q1 throughout 2019.
Understandably Russell was in contention for a Mercedes drive for 2021, though the team chose to stick with six-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton and his current team-mate Valtteri Bottas.
Though Russell believes that may not be such a bad thing, as he said going up against Hamilton in the team he has effectively molded around himself would be a “tall order”.
7 years ago today….
— Team Mercedes (@TeamMercedesUK) July 28, 2020
Speaking on the Beyond The Grid podcast, he said: “Being put in the car next to one of the best drivers ever, who’s been in the same car, the same team for seven years, the same engineers – it would have been a tall order.
“I’ve got confidence and faith in myself [but] who knows how that would have gone.
“I’ve got full confidence in Mercedes that they are fully supporting me, they’ve made that clear from day one.
“Obviously a lot of people can think what they want following recent decisions but… nothing has changed in my relationship with Toto [Wolff, Mercedes Team Principal], with the guys at Mercedes.
“Me and Toto had a long socially distant breakfast together last week, a couple of hours talking about everything, and like I say, I’ve got full faith in everybody there that I’m in their minds, and as long as I perform, they will hopefully give me an opportunity.”