George Russell backed to copy Lewis Hamilton due to Mercedes ‘confidence’ as move eyed
F1: Russell continues prep for new season
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George Russell is a world champion in the making, according to Williams CEO Jost Capito. Russell will once again drive for Williams this season despite rumours over the winter linking him with a move to Mercedes. The Brit is widely expected to drive for the Silver Arrows in the future, and possibly as early as 2022, because of a connection with the team that spans over four years.
Mercedes junior driver Russell did step into Lewis Hamilton’s shoes for one race last season when the seven-time world champion was struck down by coronavirus.
Russell looked set to pick up a first career win at the Sakhir Grand Prix before a puncture scuppered his chances.
However, Capito believes the 23-year-old’s outing for Mercedes has given him a huge amount of confidence.
And he fully expects Russell to be a world champion like his compatriot Hamilton one day, with the 36-year-old having racked up six titles with Mercedes and seven overall.
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“When he drove the Mercedes last year, it catapulted his confidence back to the top,” Capito told RTL.
“I think so.”
Capito has been seriously impressed with Russell’s worth ethic since he started working with him at Williams.
“The way he works and communicates is absolutely professional,” the German added. “Especially for someone his age.”
Russell has one year remaining on his Williams contract, the same amount Hamilton and team-mate Valtteri Bottas have at Mercedes.
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Speaking last month, Mercedes chief Toto Wolff confirmed Russell and Esteban Ocon are two potential long-term replacements for Hamilton and Bottas.
“Esteban [Ocon] is in the second year of a two-year contract with Renault and Alpine F1, and George [Russell] is with Williams this year,” Wolff told La Gazzetta Dello Sport’s weekly F1 magazine Sport Week.
“So we have some options for 2022, but until then our full support goes to Valtteri and Lewis. We will evaluate in the middle of the year whether there will be a change in 2022.
“It is definitely too early now to talk about scenarios for 2022.”
Wolff also said Hamilton’s future at Mercedes will ultimately be down to him.
“I think Lewis needs to decide what his future holds for him,” he added.
“That is why I wouldn’t want to comment on where Lewis stands and, on the other side, the team needs to decide long-term what we are going to do about drivers.”
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