George Russell says that he kept faith that he could earn a seat with Formula 1 for 2019, amid the ‘unfortunate situation’ with Mercedes protege Esteban Ocon.
The twenty year old has been confirmed to race in F1 with Williams Martini Racing next year, whilst Ocon is set to sit on the sidelines after missing out on drives with Renault Sport Formula One Team and McLaren F1 Team.
Ocon’s current seat at Racing Point Force India F1 Team will likely be vacated to Lance Stroll next year, whose father purchased the team with a consortium in the summer.
Russell, who currently leads the FIA Formula 2 championship with one round to spare, told Motorsport.com that he trusted his own success would earn him an F1 drive, even though his fellow Mercedes junior driver would lose opportunities.
“I thought the whole Esteban situation wasn’t a normal situation,” said Russell.
“Usually if you perform those opportunities will be there. I think it was out of his and Mercedes’ control what happened. Mercedes and Toto 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 Formula 2 with an aim to win the title, following Charles Leclerc who won both titles back-to-back before making his break into F1. Russell can become F2 champion at the final round in Abu Dhabi, having a 37 point deficit to second place Alexander Albon.
Fellow F2 British driver Lando Norris secured a drive in F1 next year with McLaren, but Russell said that he saw his move as a ‘positive’.
“I saw it as a massive positive, when Lando got his opportunity with McLaren,” added Russell.
“We’re both rookies, McLaren believe he is capable of taking a race seat for them 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.”
Whilst Russell has his future secured with Williams, he insist that it won’t be a distraction from winning the F2 championship.
“Obviously a lot of people are saying 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 for granted 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.”