Date published: October 16 2018
Despite watching the “bizarre” Esteban Ocon saga play out, George Russell says he held onto his belief that if he produced the goods in Formula 2, F1 would follow.
Mercedes’ junior drivers have dominated the headlines in Formula 1’s silly season, mainly due to Ocon and his lack of a 2019 drive.
Although the Force India racer was linked to both McLaren and Renault, neither came to fruition in part due to his Mercedes’ ties.
As such the talented Frenchman faces a year out of Formula 1 unless he can secure a job as Russell’s team-mate.
The British driver, who is on the cusp of winning the Formula 2 title, has signed with Williams for next season after taking matters into his own hands and phoning their tech chief Paddy Lowe.
Russell admits he also kept faith that if he produced the goods in the lower series, he would one day secure a Formula 1 promotion.
“I thought the whole Esteban situation wasn’t a normal situation,” he told Autosport.
“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.”
He’s not the only Formula 2 driver stepping up next season with title rival Lando Norris on his way to McLaren.
Russell reckons beating his highly-rated compatriot boosted his own chances of entering Formula 1.
“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.”