Former Wisbech student is edging closer to a prize Formula One drive with Mercedes
Hamilton has finally negotiated a new £30million plus one-year contract with Mercedes for 2021.
The short-term deal prompted speculation Hamilton would quit after winning, in all probability, a record eighth world title this year.
Even if he doesn’t Russell could well step up to be his partner as current Mercedes number two Valtteri Bottas is out of contract and he has failed to challenge Hamilton for the number one spot.
Russell, who is part of the Mercedes young driver programme, will also be out of contract at the struggling Williams team after next season.
Russell shocked the Formula One world when replacing an ill Hamilton for the Sakhir Grand Prix last year and looking the likely winner until a bodged pitstop.
Star driver Max Verstappen is contracted at Red Bull until 2023 so Russell could yet be presented with a golden opportunity to make his mark after a couple of seasons waiting in the wings.
Sky Sports’ Craig Slater told PlanetF1.com: “Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas and George Russell are all out of contract at Mercedes, but as long as Mercedes have the kind of car they’ve had for the last few years they will have no problems recruiting the driver they want.
“George Russell now has an extra opportunity to get into that Mercedes seat in 2022 either if they don’t continue with Bottas or if Hamilton says ‘it’s eight, and I vacate’.”
Russell picked up just three Championship points last season, all from the race at Sakhir.
Russell said: “Mercedes believe in me, they’ve given me the opportunity, and they’ve always had my back. I need to keep a positive attitude and not let a poor performance worry me.”
The 2021 Formula One seasin is due to start on May 28 at Sakhir, Bahrain.