Opinion: George Russell deserved the Mercedes seat in 2021 alongside Lewis Hamilton instead of Valtteri Bottas

You could argue that as the F1 season has come to a close for 2020, the stock of George Russell has never been higher. The 22-year-old has enjoyed a solid season in arguably the worst car on the grid. (Williams’ FW23) Russell has also managed to out qualify his teammate Nicholas Latifi at every race this season. 

The aptly named ‘Mr Saturday’ even managed to equal Nelson Piquet’s tally of 36 consecutive teammate qualifying battles won. Only Michael Schumacher and Ayrton Senna are higher up in that list than Russell and Piquet. Additionally, Russell has only been out qualified on one occasion since taking to the Formula One grid. 

With that in mind, here are some of the reasons why George Russell deserved a Mercedes seat for 2021.

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Russell impresses after standing in for Lewis Hamilton (Sakhir GP)

The one occasion George Russell has been out qualified by a teammate came in Sakhir. Russell was pipped to pole position by his teammate, Valtteri Bottas by a margin of 0.026 seconds. Now, add in the context that Russell had never driven the Mercedes W11 before that weekend, it makes his achievements’ in the car all the more impressive. 

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It’s common knowledge that many fans, drivers and the majority of the paddock – who rate the driver ever so highly, feel that Russell was deserving of a maiden Formula One victory in Sakhir.

Some would even argue that after his heroics in Sakhir, Russell is more than deserving of that Mercedes drive in future. Team principal Toto Wolff claimed that “a new star was born”.  On the other side of the garage, Valtteri Bottas faltered as the youthful Russell smashed expectations in a car that has seen its fair share of heroics.

He has an impressive racing pedigree in the junior categories

Many of the crop that Russell came up to F1 alongside have gone on to drive for teams in the top end of F1, with Charles Leclerc, Alex Albon and Lando Norris getting in the driver’s seat for Ferrari, Red Bull and McLaren respectively in 2020.

All three of those drivers have shown great promise and potential whilst George Russell has lacked the car beneath him to show his talents or fight for podiums. The rest of the ‘quartet’ all have at least one podium to their name. 

After all, Russell managed to win the F2 2018 championship for ART Grand Prix ahead of Albon and Norris, highlighting the potential that Russell has when given the right equipment. 

A 2021 drive gives Russell a chance to learn from one of the greats

Although all of the previous comments provide an argument for George Russell getting a seat at Mercedes – I believe that he should’ve been given a seat for next season with Mercedes, at the expense of Valtteri Bottas. 

In reality, Bottas has had a number of seasons to prove that he could push Hamilton to the limits and yet every year he has disappointed. 

Driving in that Mercedes W11 is a privilege that any F1 driver would give almost anything for. It is up there with the best ever car, and that is testament to the job that Mercedes have done throughout the hybrid era. Both cars deserve the very best drivers on the grid fighting it out for the title.

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Although Russell has much to learn, Mercedes clearly have a large amount of admiration for their junior driver and his audition in Sakhir proved his credentials against the man whose seat he will be looking to take. Who knows – if Russell was given the seat for the coming season, maybe he would be able to take over a role as team leader should Hamilton leave in 2022? 

With the young British driver, Mercedes would be securing their future post-Hamilton. Given the incoming regulations in 2022 and talks of a budget cap – Russell would provide great competition for Lewis, whilst also offering the foundations for a bright future.

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Things as they stand for Mercedes in 2021

It’s safe to say that it would be interesting to see what George Russell could do in a competitive car over a prolonged period of time – especially given the Brits impressive racing pedigree over his early career. Even with this in mind, it is likely that he will have to bide his time until he gets a chance with the Silver Arrows.

With 2021 approaching, Mercedes look set to take to the grid next year with the line-up which has been at the heart of most of their recent success, Hamilton and Bottas. The latter of the pair is already signed up for 2021, whilst Hamilton is still locked in negotiations with the team but is expected to confirm a deal at some point in the future.

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