George Russell believes a move from Williams to Mercedes for the 2020 season is “very, very unlikely”, but feels confident he could deliver should he get the opportunity to race alongside Lewis Hamilton next year.

Mercedes is currently considering who will be Hamilton’s teammate for next season, with team boss Toto Wolff revealing last week that a decision would be taken this month.

Hamilton’s current teammate, Valtteri Bottas, is under option for next year, but could be jettisoned to make room for Mercedes junior Esteban Ocon, who is currently the team’s reserve driver.

A report from the Daily Mail earlier this week claimed Mercedes could take a punt on Russell, 21, who is also part of its junior programme, and has impressed through his debut F1 season with Williams.

“I think any driver would love the opportunity to drive in the championship-winning car. That would be absolutely stupid to go against that,” Russell said of a potential move to Mercedes.

“I think right here, right now, I am fully focused on the job, and I will leave the political stuff to Mercedes and Williams to discuss. I’m just focused on my job here at Williams. But if I want to be in a championship-winning car, all I need to focus on is doing the job at hand.

“The fact is I’m contracted to Williams, and the fact is that I’m a Mercedes junior driver. Those are the two facts. I don’t really get into the contractual nitty-gritty things.

“From my side, I’m learning so much here at Williams. I am still thoroughly enjoying being an F1 driver and the development process and everything. But the fact is every driver wants to win races and wants the opportunity to win championships.

“There’s no disrespect or hard feelings from Williams’ perspective when I say I want to be in a championship-winning car, because who doesn’t?”

Asked directly if a promotion into Mercedes race seat for 2020 had been discussed, Russell was initially coy before casting doubt on the possibility.

“The fact is Mercedes keep an eye on everyone. With Valtteri, with Esteban, with myself - we are the Mercedes drivers,” Russell said.

“Personally I’d say very, very unlikely, but it’s… Everything is always possible in Formula 1. This sport changes by the day, and you’ve seen this always.

“I wouldn’t really like to say anything more than that really.”

Some young drivers have struggled upon moving up to a top team in the past, such as Daniil Kvyat and Pierre Gasly’s promotions to Red Bull in 2016 and 2019 respectively, but Russell was confident he would be able to deliver if given a shot by Mercedes.

“I obviously really and truly believe in myself,” Russell said. “If I ever were to get that opportunity, it would be stupid to think I could go in there and beat Lewis at the first race. In my opinion he’s the best driver on the grid.

“I feel like the potential is there. You always learn with every single race, every single year with the experience.

“If the opportunity were to come, I’d feel absolutely confident I could take it with both hands, and quickly learn as much as possible, and be there ready to really deliver after a couple of races.”

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