Russell hoping for Force India reserve role in 2018

by Rachel Hack

Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team backed driver George Russell is keen to keep his association with the Sahara Fore India F1 Team next season, alongside his Formula 2 campaign.

Russell became GP3 champion with one round remaining in 2017, which allowed Mercedes the chance to arrange for the Brit to take part in a couple of Free Practice 1 sessions with the Silverstone based squad, at the final two races of the Formula 1 season.

The 19-year-old enjoyed every minute of his F1 experience, and is definitely hoping there will be more practice session opportunities in 2018, which would allow him to gain the necessary experience to graduate up to Formula 1 in 2019. Russell has stated however, that he is not about to get ahead of himself, and his main priority next year will be taking the F2 title.

“I hope that’s the plan. Certainly talking with Mercedes, I think we’re fairly pleased with what I’ve been doing at the end of this year.

“My main priority will be Formula 2 next year, and this all came about because we had sealed the championship already in GP3.

“I don’t want anything to overlap because I’m quite aware that if I win Formula 2 next year, I’ll be given the opportunity the following year to drive in F1.

“But if I perform really well in FP1 sessions but don’t perform so well in Formula 2, it makes my cause a little bit more difficult.

“I just need to get my priorities right.”

Following his strong GP3 campaign, rumours have been circulating that the Brit will be given a reserve driver role with Force India next season; however, Russell says he does not know what is happening on that front, or whether it will be possible.

“I don’t know, like I say, I focus on one thing. I leave the rest to my managers and Mercedes. They’ve got my best interests in their hearts, and so long as I’m performing, I just go out there and do my job on the track, and they will worry about the rest.

“I really like the team. We’ve managed to gel really well together, and you can just see there’s a great team atmosphere there. I’ve spent quite a few days working with them now trying to get as prepared as possible.

“I feel comfortable, and this is somewhere I’d like to start my F1 career.”

Russell took part in the post Abu Dhabi Test with Force India on Friday, where he was eleventh fastest, before climbing into his GP3 car and putting it on pole for the first race of the weekend.

It was certainly a busy few days for the young Mercedes backed driver, but an experience he took in his stride, and coped with admirably.

“It’s been busy in one place, then in the other paddock, back to the F1 paddock and back to there. It’s been a great day.

“It was an experience jumping back into a GP3 car. The first couple of laps were very tricky I think, I was about P17 at one point and then suddenly got back to grips with it and thankfully put it on pole there, so it’s great.”

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