George Russell tipped to be Mercedes driver ‘very soon’ with Max Verstappen claim made

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

George Russell has been backed to be a Mercedes driver ‘very soon’ after impressing when replacing Lewis Hamilton for the Sakhir Grand Prix. The F1 world champion tested positive for coronavirus giving the opportunity to the Williams star.

Karun Chandhok believes Russell has proven his credentials throughout the 2020 season and it is a matter of time before he makes the switch to Mercedes.

Valtteri Bottas is already signed for next year with Hamilton expected to ink his name in the coming days.

It means Russell is set to remain at Williams in 2021 as he continues his development for a third season at the team.

Chandhok believes the 22-year-old’s performance int he Sakhir Grand Prix was similar to when Max Verstappen burst onto the scene.

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He told Sky Sports: “One swallow does not a summer make so it would be wrong to rate George’s season based on that one weekend in Bahrain.

“But there is no question that in terms of job auditions and first impressions, that was every bit as impressive as Max Verstappen’s first race and win with Red Bull in Spain back in 2016.

“George has revelled in the role of team leader at Williams but it was hard to really judge him against a rookie like Nicholas Latifi, which is why that weekend in Bahrain was important.

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“It put into context that given the tools, he is fully capable of being at the sharp end and delivering a result.

“His qualifying performances for Williams have been excellent this year although his starts, opening laps and tyre management have not always been as good.

“A quality young driver with a lot of self-confidence who deserves to be in a Mercedes very soon.”

Russell looked on course to win the Sakhir Grand Prix until a disastrous pit stop error left him down the field.

Mercedes put the wrong tyres on his car meaning he had to pit again to correct the error.

Russell impressed in eventually recovering to ninth and gaining the fastest lap but was understandably gutted after looking like a win was on the cards.

The 2020 F1 season is now over with Hamilton becoming a seven-time world champion and matching the record set by Michael Schumacher.

In 2021 the Brit will look to set a new benchmark by winning an eighth title.

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