George Russell ‘thriving’ after interest from Red Bull and Mercedes for 2022

George Russell 'gutted' to miss out on Sakhir GP victory

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George Russell says he’s been “thriving” off the pressure in the Formula One paddock as one of the most sought-after talents on the grid, despite constant speculation about the Briton’s future in 2022.

Red Bull and Mercedes have both expressed interest in the Williams driver, who is a free agent come the end of the season, with speculation Russell is due to replace Hamilton’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas at the seven-time world champions.

Russell has been hounded about his future ever since he stepped in for Hamilton at the Sakhir Grand Prix in the penultimate race of last season, when he nearly beat Bottas in his debut for the team.

He ultimately ended up P9 due to a pitlane blunder and a puncture, however, the young Mercedes driver still sent ripples through the paddock.

“I guess I thrive off it, to be honest, and you just got to turn into positivity, really,” said Russell speaking exclusively to Express Sport.

“Ultimately, all of the talks are generally positive that are being spoken about in the media, so that makes things slightly easier.

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“But I just think to myself, just go out there and if I perform on track, there’s nothing to worry about.

“So I just put all of my efforts and focus into doing a great job on the track and the rest will sort itself out, and it sounds a bit silly, but that’s the name of the game.

“It’s all about lap time, It’s all about the performance and the rest is almost secondary.”

Hamilton confirmed his future with Mercedes two weeks ago at the Austrian Grand Prix, with an extra two years added to his contract.

It means the Briton will be just shy of his 39th birthday when the contract comes to an end.

In stark contrast his team-mate Bottas has seemingly been left in limbo, confirming contract talks have not yet started, with boss Toto Wolff suggesting conversations would begin during the summer break.

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Russell meanwhile is seemingly waiting in the wings to see if he may replace Bottas, and get his shot alongside one of the most decorated teams over the past decade.

However, the 23-year-old admitted he isn’t getting consumed by it.

“I don’t let it let it really bother me or let it get to me, because, as I said, I just need to focus on my job at hand,” added Russell, speaking to Express Sport.

“If I let compliments get into my head, is it going to make me fast on the track? Probably not. If anything, it might make me slower on the track.

“If there’s negativity and I let that get into my head, is that going to make me faster on track? No more to make me slower as well.

“So you’ve sort of got to drown out all of his external noise, and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t put a little smile on my face when I see positivity out there in the media.

“Of course, you know, every single human would show a little smile when there’s something nice written about you.

“But as I said, that doesn’t make me go faster on track.

“And I’m just doing absolutely everything to make me go faster on track because I know that will benefit my career, my future.”

However, Russell did admit he’d like to have something sorted by the summer break, which takes place after the Hungarian Grand Prix.

“Hopefully I’m not in the middle of a contract discussion because I guess we all want some time off,” laughed Russell.

“But I have no plans as it stands and being unorganised, I guess just because of everything going on, constantly changing rules and regulations.

“I got away recently to my parents house, in the complete middle of nowhere in the countryside.

“And all I could hear was sheep and cows, and I just loved it, just not being bombarded and just having some space to think and get everything out of my mind and bring me back down to earth really.

“It could be nice to get some sun but I’ll be more than happy just going back to my parents and my family.”

“It’s been obviously tough, being at the back of the grid for the past couple of years and working my socks off with the Williams team to try and push the team forward.

“Obviously, it seems to me, I’m here to win and I want to win.

“So I just want to find myself in the best possible and give myself the best possible chance to do that next year has it been really special.”

The British Grand Prix gets underway at 3pm on Sunday.

The results from the 17 lap race on Saturday have determined the grid ahead of the main event at Silverstone.

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