Williams driver George Russell said he is absolutely ready to move to Mercedes when the opportunity arises ahead of this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix.
Russell was confirmed as a Williams driver for the 2021 season this week with Valtteri Bottas looking set to extend his Mercedes stay, but the Brit remains confident of making the step up.
Still associated with the Brackley team and likely to be in the frame for a seat in 2022, Russell said that he feels ready to join the six-time world champions.
“I’m absolutely ready,” he told Crash.net.
“I feel ready. I’ve had a year and a bit under my belt, and I would have the remainder of this year. But there’s no hard feelings from Mercedes’ perspective, there’s nothing more they could do. Ultimately I have a contract here at Williams.
“Claire was very firm with her feelings towards everything,” he added. “She wasn’t ready to let me go, so I have to respect that decision and get on with it really and just move forward.”
The 2018 F2 champion earned his most impressive Formula 1 qualifying result to date last weekend at a wet Styrian Grand Prix, starting the race 11th after going 12th fastest.
Such a performance always leads to speculation about his future, but Russell insists he is focused on the job at hand.
“Every time I jump in the car I’m out there to do the best job possible, I’m not thinking about any outside factors,” he said.
“They will come or [they will] not. The only thing I can control is the job I do on track and that hasn’t changed since day one. I’m just doing my utmost to prove what I can do.”
Asked whether he was hoping to get the opportunity to fight six-time world champion Lewis Hamilton in the same car, Russell replied: “Absolutely. Lewis is the benchmark and I want to be compared against the best. I think I know where my level is at but until I get tested by the best, I won’t truly know. I’m sure there’s bits I can learn from him, so I’d relish that challenge.”