Leclerc and Max say Russell ‘deserves’ Mercedes seat

Henry Valantine
George Russell at the 2021 Belgian GP.

Williams driver George Russell in the paddock at the Belgian Grand Prix in 2021.

Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen are in agreement that George Russell’s pace warrants him taking the seat alongside Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes in 2022.

The decision between Russell and Valtteri Bottas for the slot next to Hamilton is yet to be announced by Mercedes, and the two drivers did not give much away when paired together at Thursday’s press conferences.

Russell is yet to be out-qualified by a Williams team-mate and has put in several sterling performances this season, narrowly missing out on the points before earning an eighth-place finish at the last race in Hungary.

Ferrari driver Leclerc believes his consistency has warranted a drive with the works Mercedes team next year.

“It’s great if George gets that seat because he deserves it,” Leclerc told reporters, quoted by MotorsportWeek.

“It is always very difficult to judge in Formula 1, because the cars are so different and obviously with George being at Williams it is always difficult to judge how much of a good job he’s doing.

“He’s consistently there and showing good things and also in the past I’ve raced with him and I know how strong George is.

“So, he definitely deserves that spot and I think it would be great to have such a talented driver in that seat.”

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Russell has been at the back of the field for the majority of his Formula 1 career so far, but Williams have made strides to get back towards the midfield this season.

Verstappen, who is currently locked in a title fight with Russell’s potential future team-mate, feels that the talented Briton should drive in a car that lets him fight at the front of the field.

“For sure George is very quick and he can’t stay where he is forever, I think he deserves more,” Verstappen said.

“At the end of the day it is up to Mercedes to make the call, right, so it’s not really from my side.

“But for sure I rate him as a driver, and he is still very young, so it’s natural that at some point they move up, especially the good drivers.”