Russell kept faith amid "very bizarre" Ocon saga

Newly-confirmed 2019 Williams Formula 1 driver George Russell says he kept faith he could earn his grand prix debut next season amid fellow Mercedes protege Esteban Ocon's "very bizarre situation".

Russell kept faith amid "very bizarre" Ocon saga

The Formula 2 title favourite will step up to F1 next year with Williams, joining the team Ocon said last month represented his last realistic chance of staying on the grid. 

Ocon is poised to spend 2019 on the sidelines after being shuffled out of Racing Point Force India and also missing out on drives at Renault and McLaren.

Russell told Motorsport.com that he trusted his own success would be rewarded with an F1 chance, even though Ocon lost multiple opportunities.

“I thought the whole Esteban situation wasn’t a normal situation,” said the 20-year-old.

“Usually if you perform those opportunities will be there. I think it was out of his and Mercedes’ control what happened. 

“Mercedes and Toto [Wolff, team boss] were absolutely clear that if I performed the opportunity would come. That impressed in my mind. 

“It might sound a bit silly saying that off the back of Esteban’s predicament, but that was a very bizarre situation, a very unfortunate situation.”

Russell entered 2018 as the reigning GP3 champion and targeted the F2 title as a rookie to emulate the back-to-back success of Ferrari protege Charles Leclerc.

He has won more races (six) and scored more poles (four) than any other driver and leads Alexander Albon by 37 points with 46 up for grabs in the Abu Dhabi finale next month. 

Russell said that even though there were “ups and downs throughout the season with other drivers” in the F1 market it had “not played on my mind”.

He also believes defeating Lando Norris in F2, when his fellow Briton had landed a McLaren drive for 2019, was an important factor.

“I saw it as a massive positive, when Lando got his opportunity with McLaren,” said Russell.

“We’re both rookies, McLaren believe he is capable of taking a race seat for them [so] that must bode very well for myself. 

“I wasn’t bitter or disappointed he had that opportunity before me because at that point I was unsure what the future held. 

“But I saw that as a positive, that this made me look extremely good.”

Russell still has a long wait before he can seal the F2 title but insists he will not be distracted by his Williams shot. 

“Obviously a lot of people are saying [I have] one hand on the title and we’re almost there, which is potentially true, but at the end of the day anything can still happen,” he said.

“I can’t take [that] for granted [and think] I’ve got this championship sewn up. 

“It’s a step-by-step process really, I need to focus on F2 and once that chequered flag falls I’ll be focused for 2019.”

shares
comments
Verstappen: F1 risks qualifying becoming practice

Previous article

Verstappen: F1 risks qualifying becoming practice

Next article

Massa: Ferrari struggling to cope with pressure

Massa: Ferrari struggling to cope with pressure
Load comments
How Tsunoda plans to achieve his F1 potential Prime

How Tsunoda plans to achieve his F1 potential

Yuki Tsunoda arrived in grand prix racing amid a whirlwind of hype, which only increased after his first race impressed the biggest wigs in Formula 1. His road since has been rocky and crash-filled, and OLEG KARPOV asks why Red Bull maintains faith in a driver who admits he isn’t really that big a fan of F1?

The danger of reading too much into F1's clickbait radio messages Prime

The danger of reading too much into F1's clickbait radio messages

OPINION: After Lewis Hamilton responded to reports labelling him 'furious' with Mercedes following his heated exchanges over team radio during the Russian Grand Prix, it provided a snapshot on how Formula 1 broadcasting radio snippets can both illuminate and misrepresent the true situation

Formula 1
Oct 14, 2021
How F1’s pole winner approach undermines drivers Prime

How F1’s pole winner approach undermines drivers

OPINION: Valtteri Bottas is credited with pole position for the 2021 Turkish Grand Prix, despite being beaten in qualifying. This is another example of Formula 1 and the FIA scoring an own goal by forgetting what makes motorsport magic, with the Istanbul race winner also a victim of this in the championship’s recent history

Formula 1
Oct 13, 2021
Turkish Grand Prix driver ratings Prime

Turkish Grand Prix driver ratings

On a day that the number two Mercedes enjoyed a rare day in the sun, the Turkish Grand Prix produced several standout drives - not least from a driver who has hit a purple patch of late

Formula 1
Oct 11, 2021
The hidden factors that thwarted Hamilton's bid for Turkey glory Prime

The hidden factors that thwarted Hamilton's bid for Turkey glory

Starting 11th after his engine change grid penalty, Lewis Hamilton faced a tough task to repeat his Turkish Grand Prix heroics of 2020 - despite making strong early progress in the wet. Instead, his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas broke through for a first win of the year to mitigate Max Verstappen re-taking the points lead

Formula 1
Oct 11, 2021
How pitstops evolved into an F1 art form Prime

How pitstops evolved into an F1 art form

A Formula 1 pitstop is a rapid-fire blend of high technology and human performance. PAT SYMONDS describes how the science of margin gains makes stops so quick

Formula 1
Oct 10, 2021
Why Mercedes' Istanbul edge is both stronger and weaker than it seems Prime

Why Mercedes' Istanbul edge is both stronger and weaker than it seems

Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton dominated the opening day of action for the 2021 Turkish Grand Prix, on the Istanbul circuit’s much improved track surface. But the Black Arrows squad’s position isn’t quite what it seems. Here’s why...

Formula 1
Oct 8, 2021
The rise and fall of Lotus as an F1 superpower Prime

The rise and fall of Lotus as an F1 superpower

On 8 October 1961, Innes Ireland claimed victory at the United States Grand Prix to herald the true arrival of a new Formula 1 giant. While Team Lotus endured plenty of highs and lows until the team folded over three decades later, Colin Chapman's squad made F1 history and helped shape the championship.

Formula 1
Oct 8, 2021