George Russell says he has been given no specific targets of how to secure a Mercedes seat for 2022 – and insists nothing is guaranteed about his future.
The 22-year-old Briton is generally perceived to be a Mercedes driver-in-waiting, maybe as soon as 2022 after his three-year ‘loan spell’ with Williams has come to an end.
The opportunity could feasibly arise even sooner if Sir Lewis Hamilton does not finalise a new contract with his fellow World Champions, no deal having been confirmed two months before pre-season testing takes place for the 2021 campaign.
It would nevertheless be a surprise if Hamilton walked away, so Russell will probably have to wait another year at least to get back in the Mercedes car – to which he adapted superbly when standing in for his fellow Briton who was sidelined with COVID-19 at the Sakhir Grand Prix.
Russell would have likely won that race but for a double-stack pit-stop blunder by Mercedes and then a slow puncture as he was chasing down eventual victor Sergio Perez.
But while he is widely regarded to be next in line for a coveted place with the all-conquering Silver Arrows, Russell maintains he has not been told there is an obstacle-free pathway into the team and is well aware that a driver’s stock can easily rise or fall based on their performances.
Sorry I’ve been a bit quiet recently. I wanted to take a few days to myself but we’re back in business training for the new season. Raring to go already!
Stay safe and healthy everyone ✌️ pic.twitter.com/BUvgxh2JwL
— George Russell (@GeorgeRussell63) January 13, 2021
“No, they’ve not said what I need to do,” Russell told Motorsport.com. “At the moment I’m just respectful to everyone at Williams and I will just be giving my absolute all for that team, as they have done for me for the last two years.
“I don’t like to think about the future. This sport changes incredibly quickly, people’s perception of drivers – your reputation [can change fast]. And outside factors, as we’ve seen [can come into play].”
While there was speculation that Valtteri Bottas’ place at Mercedes might be under threat from Russell, on the basis of their respective Sakhir GP race performances in which the more experienced Finn was outshone, team principal Toto Wolff has dismissed the idea that there will be a permanent change to the line-up any time soon.
“One day George will be in a good car and hopefully race for victories and Championships,” said Wolff. “But that is far away. He knows that.
“We have total trust in Valtteri and loyalty, as we’ve always had, and that is our position.”