For Valtteri Bottas, time seems to be running out at Mercedes. While George Russell is knocking on the door for...
George Russell will have expected more from his debut in Formula 1. A spot at Williams provided the Formula 2 champion with perhaps the worst place to be of all three debutants in 2019 and 2020, the outlook doesn't seem much better.
New British success after Lewis Hamilton
Like many other talents, Russell started his young career in karting. The karts were exchanged for a Formula Renault 2.0 car as early as 2014, when the Brit took fourth place in the championship.
The switch to Formula 4 also pays off immediately, with Russell taking the title in his first year (despite strong competition). The title gives the Brit the chance to test in a GP3 car and puts himself on the map to take part in the McLaren Autosport BRDC Award. Driving against other British drivers Russell manages to win (from Alexander Albon among others) and thus gets a Formula 1 test with McLaren. The first steps towards the royal class have been taken.
Instead of tearing through the lower classes like Lance Stroll did, Russell took the time to gain experience. Two seasons in Formula 3, followed by a year in the GP3 class and a year in Formula 2.
Formula 3 earned Russell third place (with an engine from Mercedes in the back of his car) in 2016, with ART Grand Prix the Briton took the title in the 2017 season. In the same year Mercedes announced that it had included Russell in the junior program. The Brit was one of the three racers in the talent project (next to Esteban Ocon and Andrea Antonelli).
The maturing in lower classes turned out to be extremely useful in Russell's Formula 2 season. Despite a difficult start, the Brit managed to recover and win the title with ART at the expense of fellow F1 rookie, Lando Norris.
On several occasions in that same season (and in the previous one) Russell was allowed to join Mercedes-related teams in Formula 1 to take care of free practice sessions and tyre tests. Toto Wolff is doing everything in his power to prepare Russell as well as possible for his debut race in the royal class.
George Russell in 2020
Russell may not have to expect so much from 2020 either. The Brit is once again racing for Williams, who have a huge backlog to bridge and a lack of income. A dangerous combination in Formula 1, where money really is a very important factor. Nicholas Latifi is a good teammate in that respect, because his father brings a lot of money with him.
However, it is not expected that Williams will be competitive in 2020 and will focus on 2021, which also makes 2020 a long year for the Brit. He will have a new opponent with Latifi to prove himself, but whether the 21-year-old will really be challenged by a rookie who rarely managed to win anything in the junior categories is doubtful.
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