Russell unsure he’d be Mercedes stand-in again

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George Russell

George Russell

George Russell is not sure whether he would be called up to Mercedes again in 2021 should one of their regular drivers be unavailable.

The Briton got his first chance to drive for the German team last season when he replaced Lewis Hamilton for the Sakhir Grand Prix after the seven-time World Champion had tested positive for COVID-19.

He got the call despite the fact the team’s official reserve driver, Stoffel Vandoorne, was available himself to take Hamilton’s place.

This season, Vandoorne will remain in the role alongside his Formula E team-mate Nyck de Vries, while Nico Hulkenberg is also in talks with the team.

Asked what this would mean for Russell’s chance of getting in the W12, the Williams man said that is not something that will be decided in advance.

“I mean, nothing official has been decided. Obviously, that was all arranged very last minute for us last year,” he said, quoted by

“They need to be prepared because these things can happen on a Friday night, for another driver to be able to do the race, but I think we’ll just cross that bridge when we get there.”

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Russell was hugely impressive in his race weekend in a Mercedes, nearly taking pole position from Valtteri Bottas in qualifying and getting the better of the Finn in the race until a puncture ended his chances of winning.

He says that how well he performed there has given him a confidence boost ahead of his third season on the grid.

“What was very interesting for me was I qualified second, which was my best qualifying ever – I think previously it was 12th – and I was disappointed not to be on pole,” he said.

“Just because you’re suddenly at the front of a grid, it doesn’t change that goal, that satisfaction you get by getting the absolute most out of your equipment.

“Equally, coming away from that event, I had a few tough days. But equally, I put it behind me, I learned from it. I was very grateful to Mercedes and Williams for giving me the chance and ultimately I had to see that race as a victory in itself, even if I didn’t get the trophy at the end of the day.

“[I am] then coming into this season with more confidence and belief in myself and that’s great for me, great for the team and great for everyone. So yeah, it was a good opportunity.”

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