F1: Hamilton v Verstappen in numbers
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Red Bull’s Christian Horner has told Mercedes he believes youngster George Russell has ‘served his apprenticeship’ and is ready for his chance. The 23-year-old Brit has been with Williams for the past three seasons and has continuously impressed despite regularly starting at the back of the field.
Russell, however, has driven for Mercedes before too.
When seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton was ruled out of the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix after testing positive for COVID-19, Russell was called up, and simply shone at such short notice.
Nothing has so far been confirmed, but Russell looks almost certain to get a chance alongside Hamilton next season at the expense of current Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas.
Horner told Sky Sports F1: “If George was on the open market then I think a lot of teams would want to snap him up,
“He’s a great, young talent but he is under contract to Mercedes and I’m sure they have a clear plan for him.
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“He’s going to be champing at the bit to get his chance now. I think he has served his apprenticeship and he’s obviously ready for that next step.
“You would be foolish not to look at him but I don’t believe that is the case because of his agreement with Mercedes.
“But he needs that chance and opportunity now and Toto should give him a go. Lewis and George would be a strong dynamic and it would be great for British motorsport.
“He’s served his apprenticeship now.”
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When asked about Red Bull’s future next season with Sergio Perez’s seat alongside Max Verstappen not yet secured, Horner added: “Checo is doing a great job and doing exactly what we asked from him. He’s scored a podium, won a race so far and third in the World Championship.
“He’s doing a fantastic job but we’re not at that halfway spot in the Championship yet. But I think everyone at the team is content and happy with what he is doing and his role as team player as well.”
Those hoping for a confirmation of Russell completing the move at Silverstone this weekend will be disappointed.
Russell told F1 Nation podcast: “I signed with Mercedes five or six years ago now, that is 100 per cent true, as everybody knows they look after me.
“With regards to my drive for next year nothing has been signed or sealed and nothing will be announced in Silverstone so I can let you know that.”
Russell certainly looks one for the future, and a partnership with Hamilton next year would be a defining moment for British motorsport.
With Red Bull telling Mercedes to finally set the move in stone, the amount of respect and admiration for Russell is abundantly clear.
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