F1 grid missing "at least two teams" - Russell

Formula 2 championship leader and Mercedes protege George Russell believes Formula 1 is lacking “at least two teams” after his prospects of securing a 2019 drive have faded.

F1 grid missing "at least two teams" - Russell

Russell turned down a first free-practice outing of the year ahead of the Italian Grand Prix as he focuses on his fight with 2019 McLaren F1 driver Lando Norris for the F2 title. 

While Norris’s future is secure, the rapid changes in F1’s driver market in recent weeks has put Russell’s graduation in doubt as Mercedes struggles to find a place for him and likely Racing Point Force India exile Esteban Ocon.

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff suggested F1 should make third cars available to teams with young drivers, and Russell told Motorsport.com: “I feel like Formula 1 is currently lacking at least two teams. 

“We only have 20 cars on the grid, as a young driver trying to break into that 20 is extremely difficult.

“I think the idea of a third car, or something along those lines, is a very good idea. 

“You sometimes see the pay drivers getting into Formula 1, and potentially they could come in for their home race: an Asian driver comes in for the Asian races, the American drivers come in for the American races and so on. 

“It gives the likes of Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull the chance to throw their young drivers in without any major issues.”

Rival F1 teams are reluctant to hire drivers who tied to their competition. 

Wolff admitted this problem, and the consequence of Mercedes struggling to get its drivers into F1, means he will consider the future of his company’s junior programme.

Some of Mercedes’ rivals have reacted negatively to Wolff’s suggestion of a third car, questioning the cost and practicality of such a measure, but Russell believes third cars would be a worthwhile expense for those that could afford it.

“Formula 1 is an extremely expensive sport because of the development, not because of the actual cost of the building the front wings or whatever,” he said.

“The money is spent in the windtunnels, on the designers’ salaries, the time and effort to design the cars. 

“To make three wings instead of two is not going to be a huge additional cost. [Or] a third chassis compared to two. 

“Obviously it’s an increased cost, but it’s not much for the spectacle it could give Formula 1.”

George Russell, Mercedes AMG F1

George Russell, Mercedes AMG F1

Photo by: Manuel Goria / Sutton Images

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