Toto Wolff believes that Formula 2 championship leader George Russell is not in as tricky a position as fellow Mercedes junior Esteban Ocon as both look to secure a Formula 1 drive for 2019.

Russell leads the F2 standings by 22 points heading into the penultimate round of the season in Russia this weekend, and is vying to become the latest graduate from the series to F1 next year.

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However, with F1 sophomore Ocon struggling to find a seat for 2019 following some unexpected driver market moves through the summer, Russell has also conceded his position has become more complicated.

Both drivers have been tipped as candidates for a seat with Williams - one of the few teams with a seat still free - in 2019, but Mercedes motorsport chief Wolff does not expect Russell and Ocon to trip across each other, believing them to be in very different positions in their career.

“I think the two of them are at very different stages in their career. George is still in the fight for the F2 championship and it's not done, and he clearly has the talent and would merit to go into Formula 1,” Wolff said.

“He's not in as tricky position as Esteban. I don't think the two of them will stumble across themselves [and] come into each other's way.”

Ocon looks set to spend a year not racing in F1, instead taking up a reserve role with Mercedes, but Wolff is hopeful of getting the Frenchman back on the grid for 2020.

“I think it doesn't feel right for somebody like Esteban to sit out a year testing. But we've seen it in the past,” Wolff said.

“I believe that the market is going to be very different in the early summer next year, not only with us, but also with some of the other teams. Some doors will open, others will remain closed.

“It’s just about finding the next right opportunity for Esteban.”

 

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