George Russell: Mercedes could snub star because of Max Verstappen’s Red Bull clause

George Russell 'gutted' to miss out on Sakhir GP victory

George Russell has been linked with a 2022 Mercedes F1 drive but could face competition from Max Verstappen because of a clause in his Red Bull contract. Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas are expected to line up for Mercedes this year but that could change in 12 months time.

Russell impressed at the Sakhir Grand Prix when he stepped in for Lewis Hamilton after the F1 world champion tested positive for coronavirus.

The 22-year-old currently drives for Williams but is part of the Mercedes development programme.

There were calls for Russell to replace Valtteri Bottas after his dominance in the race.

The youngster looked on course to win on two occasions but for calamity in a pit stop and a puncture dropping him right down the field.

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You would think Russell would be next in line then if and when Mercedes make a driver change?

Well, maybe not.

Red Bull star Verstappen is generally regarded as the fastest driver in the sport alongside seven-time champion Hamilton.

The Dutchman underlined his credentials again by challenging Mercedes at every turn in 2020 despite being in an inferior car.

Verstappen would therefore be highly sought after by the Silver Arrows and there is a way they could potentially snap him up.

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The 23-year-old has an exit clause in his contract linked to Honda leaving the sport as confirmed by Helmut Marko.

“Generally speaking, it is a fixed contract and if everything goes in the right direction there will be no problems,” Marko said last year.

“We have a contract with Honda until 2021, but obviously being without an engine for the future it would complicate all our plans.

“Consequently, it is clear that we need a competitive engine to keep hold of Verstappen.”

Honda have since announced they are leaving the sport at the end of 2021.

It means that clause could be activated although the exact details are not yet known.

Mercedes would definitely consider a move for Verstappen which could be bad news for Russell ahead of 2022.

If Verstappen were to activate any clause Toto Wolff would no doubt be interested in the man who many see as the one to succeed Hamilton whenever he retires from the sport.

For Russell, it could mean a longer wait to move up the grid to a more competitive car.

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