Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has backed new Williams Formula 1 recruit George Russell to become a “star in the future”.

Russell has been signed by Williams following back-to-back title triumphs in F1’s direct feeder championships GP3 and Formula 2, the latter of which he sealed ahead of McLaren’s Lando Norris after taking seven wins.

The 20-year-old Mercedes-backed driver will partner the returning Robert Kubica during his rookie season at the British squad as the team looks to recover from a disappointing 2018 campaign.

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“I can only repeat what Sebastien Philippe [ART GP team boss] said, that George is one of the best we’ve ever had within our team,” Wolff explained.

“I think we might have another young British boy here that can become a star in the future.”

Wolff recalled his first meeting with Russell following his first single-seater title success in the British F4 Championship in 2014 and explained how the Briton immediately made an impression on Mercedes.

“My first encounter with George was when he was 15 or 16 years old, and he asked me for a meeting - I really enjoy meeting those young kids full of dreams,” he said.

“He came in a black suit in a tie with a notebook, and he said I’ve just won the F4 title in British F4, and I’m considering doing F3 and my feeling is that I should be staying with a British team because I’m very young and I understand Carlin.

“And [he] asked would that close the Mercedes door for me if I’m not on a Mercedes engine in F3 in my first year?

“It was such a reflective question from a 15 year old or 16 year old, it was really amazing. So he has the brain, he has the empathy, the social skills and the driving.”

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