Russell insists he hasn’t signed with Mercedes for 2022
George Russell has moved to downplay suggestions he’s already locked in for a promotion to the Mercedes Formula 1 team in 2022.
There’s been no shortage of speculation that Russell will replace incumbent Valtteri Bottas, who has increasingly struggled to match champion team-mate Lewis Hamilton.
Russell ironically has failed to score a single world championship point in 45 races thus far for Williams, although misfortune has often ruined his starring qualifying efforts – as was the case at last weekend’s Styrian Grand Prix.
The 23-year-old Englishman did give the F1 world a glimpse of what he could achieve in a front-running car while substituting for Hamilton at the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix.
When asked if he’s a done deal to head to Mercedes, Russell was adamant that he’s simply focused on putting his best foot forward for Williams.
“Nothing’s set in stone for next year. And I’m still a Williams driver,” he said.
“I haven’t signed any contracts beyond so I’m just fully focused on my job at the moment.
“Hopefully my future gets settled one way or another… the better job you do on track, the more chance you have to secure a future as obviously Formula 1 is a ruthless sport.
“There’s only spots for 20 drivers and you’ve got to be on your A-game, you can’t get too carried away looking into the future.
“Because if you start having a bad run of form, you know, suddenly everything can change.”
If Bottas is ousted – assuming that Hamilton re-signs – he could be left with few options to remain on the F1 grid.
McLaren, Ferrari, Aston Martin, Alpine are all set to field unchanged line-ups next year.
Red Bull seemingly has the choice between re-signing Sergio Perez, who’s proven to be Max Verstappen’s most competitive team-mate since Daniel Ricciardo, or giving Pierre Gasly another shot.
Gasly has done a supreme job for AlphaTauri since being demoted by Red Bull; it seems logical that he would stick with the Faenza squad if Red Bull opts to keep Perez.
“My future, I think it’s still quite early,” said Gasly.
“I think on my side things are in the hands of Red Bull. At the end of the day, it will be up to them to make the decision.
“Whether we continue together, continue with AlphaTauri, with Red Bull, or other options, and it’s something that at the moment we haven’t really talked yet so yeah, I guess we will see in the coming weeks and coming months what we want to do.”
Elsewhere, Nikita Mazepin is thought to be entrenched at Haas, while Ferrari Driver Academy members Mick Schumacher and Callum Ilott are well placed to represent either Haas or Alfa Romeo – both being Ferrari-affiliated squads.
That leaves a return to Williams as a potential plan B for Bottas. It’s been written that Russell’s current team-mate Nicholas Latifi is under contract until the end of 2022.
The futures of AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda and Alfa Romeo duo Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi are to be clarified.
Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi meanwhile has hinted at the possibility of placing his own Academy drivers – including Oscar Piastri of Australia – at rival squads given Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon are both under contract for next season.