George Russell says 2018 Formula 2 title rival Lando Norris’ promotion to McLaren helped his own bid to land a seat on the 2019 Formula 1 grid with Williams.

Mercedes junior Russell claimed seven wins on his way to beating Norris to the F2 championship crown to seal back-to-back title triumphs in F1’s direct feeder categories.

While Norris was confirmed as Stoffel Vandoorne’s replacement at McLaren for 2019 in early September - despite trailing Russell in the standings - Russell had to wait a further month before sealing the first seat on offer at Williams.

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Asked if he was frustrated by Norris earning an F1 drive before he did, Russell replied: “Not at all actually.

“Lando’s announcement so early helped me to push Williams for my drive because if I was ahead of him in the championship.

“McLaren believed he was worthy of a Formula 1 seat, so it showed there was some great signs for myself, and it probably added more pressure for Williams to say we’ve got to go with George because he’s the guy who is winning F2.”

Russell will be joined at Williams by the returning Robert Kubica in 2019 as the British squad looks to recover from a torrid season in which it slipped to the bottom of the constructors’ championship.

The 20-year-old said he is relishing the opportunity to compete against the highly-rated Pole but stressed making progress as a team is the  priority for his rookie season.

“I think our targets next season are very clear, and that’s to get Williams back to fighting into the points and the top of the midfield,” Russell explained.

“I think we want to be recognised, we want to be putting in good results.

“If I’m beating my teammate but it’s for last position, there’s no joy or glory for anybody.

“Myself and Robert [Kubica] will be working really hard together, firstly to get the team to where they deserve to be, and then we’ll see how the results are after that.”



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