George Russell believes Mercedes is more patient with its Formula 1 junior drivers compared to Red Bull’s “cutthroat” approach.

Russell, who has had much of his career backed by Mercedes, rose up the single-seater ladder by winning back-to-back titles in GP3 and Formula 2 before earning his F1 bow with Williams for this season.

Speaking about fellow F2 graduate Alexander Albon’s hefty practice crash following Chinese Grand Prix qualifying, Russell said the way Red Bull handles its young driver programme is “a bit more cutthroat compared to usual”.

“Alex is doing a really great job at the moment,” he added. “I think everybody is aware of the pressure that is seen upon Red Bull juniors, so you understand why they are always 120 percent every single time they set foot in the car.

“It’s not that I don’t feel pressure [from Mercedes]. At the end of the day if I am not performing Mercedes aren’t just going to keep me there.

“But when I opened the F2 season in Bahrain last year and it was a poor weekend and the same in GP3 in Barcelona [the year before], the response from Toto [Wolff] was ‘don’t worry about it, it’s the first race and a look season, and make sure you do better next time’.

“I was expecting a bollocking when I walked into his office. I can’t speak for them but it’s the perception looking at history of how they do things.”

Albon, who recovered strongly from his Shanghai setback to record his second consecutive points finish with 10th place on race day, said that he has got used to dealing with pressure after finding himself fighting to seal a full-time contract in F2 last year, having initially only been handed a race-by-race deal.

The British-Thai driver went on to record four victories and finished third in the championship standings behind Russell and McLaren’s Lando Norris.

“I’ve been under pressure before, even last year I was racing for my seat every weekend so I couldn’t sit back,” Albon replied when asked for a response to Russell’s comments.

“I’ve kind of got used to it and I’m quite comfortable in myself and confident in myself so I’m not too worried about that.”

Despite finding himself in a difficult situation amid Williams’ dismal start to 2019, Russell says he sees no reason to apply additional pressure on himself in a bid to impress Mercedes.

“I feel the same amount of pressure entering a qualifying session as I did in F2 or GP3,” Russell explained. “You want to do your best and get the most out of it and I know I’ve just got to do the job.

“There’s no need to add additional pressure to impress anybody more than I am doing. My goal is to get the most out of it and if I do that I’m happy.”

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