Williams’ George Russell says that he is patiently waiting for the opportunity to get to the front of the F1 grid, like some of his fellow youngsters have.
With Sebastian Vettel’s departure from Ferrari shuffling the F1 grid, many mid-field drivers have been promoted to teams higher up in the field, where McLaren’s Carlos Sainz replaced the German as Daniel Ricciardo made his way to McLaren.
On top of this, there have been a host of young drivers to climb the ranks in the last few years, with Max Verstappen leading a new guard of youthful drivers who enter the sport at an incredibly young age and rise to positions of success within F1 equally early on.
Last year, three young rookies joined F1 for the Australian GP, with Alexander Albon, Lando Norris and Russell. The Thai was the first to get a seat at the top, replacing Pierre Gasly at Red Bull, while the Brits are stationed at McLaren and Williams’ respectively.
In the case of the former, Norris started his career with a decent seat, and therefore isn’t so much in the market yet. However, in the case of the latter, Russell – who drives for Williams – has yet to achieve the same levels of success so far being a Mercedes junior.
Despite this, the Brit has said that he is patiently waiting for an opportunity that he knows is just around the corner. As part of the Mercedes driver program, Russell has a clear path to a front team, that is obstructed only by Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton.
For now, he remains part of Williams but with both Bottas and Hamilton out of contract after 2020, the Brit has a good chance to get through, something the F2 champion is banking on considering his peers getting through to the top.
“Obviously big shake-ups at the front of the grid changes the dynamic a bit and it’ll be interesting to see what happens in the next weeks and months to see who fills the rest of the spots on the grid,” said Russell to Sky Sports F1.
“The fact is I’m contracted to Williams but it’s no secret I’m also contracted to Mercedes. They effectively own me and they’re my managers. There’s plenty of speculation, but time will tell. We’re all youngsters, we all want to have that successful career and victories right away, but if you’re doing the job and you’re performing we’ll all get our chance.
“That’s all I can do at the moment. Obviously seeing my mates up there in potential championship-winning cars is something I’m a little bit jealous of because I want to be up there challenging as well.
“But I know as long as I keep performing and I keep driving to the best of my ability that opportunity will come whether it’s next year, two years, five years, 10 years. It should come,” said Russell, who also added that the moves of his peers is good for F1 as a whole.
“The likes of Ferrari have got to start looking to the future and with Charles and Carlos, that could potentially be their line-up for five, six, seven years to come,” added Russell. “I think for any organization having that stability is what people need, having two mega drivers side-by-side.
“Daniel going to McLaren is going to be great for Lando and he’s going to relish that challenge. Having a really strong team-mate next to you, I think Lando is in a win-win situation there so that’s great for him. It’s exciting for the future of the sport.
“And likewise Danny’s still got a number of years in him and both he and Lando again could be at McLaren for four, five, six years. I think it all makes sense.” Apart from Mercedes, Russell can have options at Renault, Haas and even Alfa Romeo for the time being.
Here’s what Toto Wolff said regarding George Russell
Here’s what McLaren’s Zak Brown said about current moves
Here’s Mattia Binotto on Sebastian Vettel, Carlos Sainz and budget cap
Here’s how George Russell won the F1 Virtual GP
Here’s Claire Williams on current situation
The story was edited by Darshan Chokhani