George Russell 'gutted' to miss out on Sakhir GP victory
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George Russell has revealed that the thought of looking outside of Mercedes for a 2022 seat ‘hasn’t crossed’ his mind ahead of the Formula One Emilia Romagna GP.
The Williams driver has a year left on his contract before he’s a free agent, which coincides with both the Mercedes driver’s deals ending too.
Russell, a Mercedes Junior driver, sent ripples through the paddock when he deputised for Lewis Hamilton at the Sakihir Grand Prix as the seven-time world champion recovered from COVID-19.
Since that performance, there has been much speculation that Russell would be the natural fit for the team, with boss Toto Wolff admitting a star was born after the race.
And when asked if he had been considering other options if there was no chance at Mercedes, Russell replied: “Mercedes have been loyal to me since day one, so that isn’t even crossing my mind at the moment.
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“They have their faith in me, I have my faith in them. Time will tell. It’s been clear since day one since 2016 when I signed for Mercedes, to do the job on the track and the opportunities would come. That’s been the case through GP3, F2, and then with my career in F1.
“Obviously we signed the three year deal back in 2018. Let’s wait and see. But at the moment, that thought hasn’t even crossed my mind.”
Russell had a maiden win snatched away from him at the Sakhir Grand Prix thanks to a rare pit stop blunder from the team, and a puncture that left him P9 at the flag, with the small consolation of his first-ever points finish.
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However, since his impressive performance – one that would’ve caught the attention of more than one team on the grid, the 23-year-old was advised to keep his options.
Speaking to Express Sport ahead of the season, 1996 world champion Damon Hill says stepping up to a more competitive team wouldn’t be out of his reach, but he must be speaking to other teams about his future.
“I think he’s had enough time and has shown what he’s capable of given a competitive car,” explained Hill, Sky Sports F1 pundit.
“He’s a very feisty driver. He’s young, he’s very determined by his own admission he’s quite pushing.
“I’m sure he will be phoning up Toto [Wolff, Mercedes team principal] on a regular basis to see what the story is, and if he’s got any sense he’ll be calling other people up as well, he won’t just rely on Mercedes.
“He’ll be on people’s watch list, definitely, but time ticks by incredibly quickly in this sport, and he did so well close to the end of last season, but that was almost 100 years ago now. Things pick up, new guys come on the scene and new stories evolve.
“He knows that and he has to keep the pressure up, otherwise he may get overlooked by some other new star.”
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