Mercedes junior George Russell insists his hopes of securing a Formula 1 seat next season are not reliant on him winning this year’s Formula 2 championship. 

Russell heads fellow Briton and McLaren reserve Lando Norris by 12 points having taken four victories and claimed three pole positions for ART Grand Prix so far in F1’s direct feeder category. He went on to top F1’s post-Hungarian Grand Prix test with Mercedes, setting a new unofficial track record with the fastest time of the second and final in-season test of 2018. 

The 20-year-old is among a number of drivers who have suffered from a spate of reliability failures following teething troubles with F2’s new-for-2018 car but he is confident even a failed title bid won’t impact his F1 hopes, providing he retains a strong level of performance throughout the remainder of the campaign.

“I don’t think it’s essential to win [F2] to secure that F1 seat,” Russell said. “I think this season in F2 has been a bit unique for everybody. 

“If we were not to win the championship we can always look back and say we had a whole weekend in Budapest ruined by mechanical, we had the whole of Monaco ruined by mechanical, we had race two in Paul Ricard, didn’t start, we stalled in Bahrain. 

“The list is just enormous,” he added. “Everyone is having issues but we kind of are getting that unluckier moment let’s say on tracks you can’t do anything, Budapest and Monaco have been my worst two. 

“What’s essential is that I keep on performing. I keep on qualifying at the front and if I am at the back I keep on coming back like I have been doing.”

Russell could be placed into one of Mercedes’ two customer teams next year, but looks to face added competition for a 2019 seat following Daniel Ricciardo’s shock switch to Renault – which shut the door on a move to Enstone for fellow Mercedes junior Esteban Ocon, whose future remains uncertain at Force India. 

Russell hopes he has done enough to “turn some heads” in the F1 paddock with his achievements so far in F2, adding he believes he is starting to build pressure on Mercedes and other teams to find him a spot on the grid. 

“I think currently we are doing a very good job in F2. I hope some heads have turned in the past few races and kind of noticed what we have been achieving,” he said. 

“I purely think we just need to keep on doing what we are doing really. If you keep on winning and keep on doing stellar performances teams are going to be interested. 

“I think I am really being able to show everybody what I’m capable of and I think it’s definitely putting pressure on Toto [Wolff] and other teams on the grid to look at me.

“Hopefully they see they can have a good relationship with this driver and I think from that side I’m pleased with how the season is going and all I can do is keep on putting pressure on these teams.” 

Russell believes F2 has gained more respect and interest as a series following the success of Sauber rookie Charles Leclerc, who claimed back-to-back titles in GP3 and F2 en route to his promotion to F1 this season. 

The Ferrari protégé has gone on to score 14 points and has made a number of appearances in Q2 and Q3 for a revitalised Sauber squad in the first half of the season. 

“F2 credit has gone up massively since Charles [Leclerc] has done a massively good job this year at Sauber,” Russell explained. “Obviously in the past few years F1 is sort of changing with the likes of Verstappen, Ocon, Leclerc, these young guys coming in and proving they can do the job. 

“I feel ready and I don’t think there’s a huge amount more that we need to be doing. Just keep on performing, keep on winning and hopefully win the F2 Championship.”


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