George Russell says he is not looking for validation from Mercedes over his performances for Williams through his debut season in Formula 1, but knows it is “keeping a very close eye” on his progress.

Mercedes junior Russell moved into F1 with Williams for 2019 off the back of his Formula 2 title victory last year, signing alongside Robert Kubica.

Russell has impressed with his showings at the rear of the field for the team despite failing to score any points, outqualifying Kubica at all 19 races so far this year and regularly leading Williams’ push in races.

Speaking to Crash.net, Russell said that while he believed Mercedes was pleased with the work he has been doing through his rookie season, he was not looking for any approval or validation as its high standards acted as a minimum expectation.

“I’ve learned over my three years with Mercedes is that doing a very good job is expected,” Russell said.

“If you’re a postman and you post a letter, you don’t expect someone to pat them on the back for posting a letter – that’s their job. My job, [Mercedes] invested in me, they believe in me. My job is to perform to a high level, week in, week out, because that’s what they expect from me.

“They say well done to me when they think I’ve done well, but they’re not going out of their way constantly to say, ‘George you’re doing an amazing job’ because that’s what I’m paid to do, and that’s what they believe I should be doing.

“Mercedes are keeping a very close eye on everything, every session, every qualifying, every race I am doing. I definitely feel recognised within the team, but it’s also good to know I’m also being recognised from without.

“It does mean a lot, but like I said, I’m here for myself, I’m here because I want to do the best job for myself week in, week out. I’m not looking for praise from anyone really. I’m just looking to do the best job I possibly can.”

Russell is now the most senior member of Mercedes’ junior driver programme following Esteban Ocon’s switch to Renault for the 2021 season.

The 21-year-old was already linked with a switch up to Mercedes for 2020 over the summer, but stressed that even with Ocon no longer in the frame for a future drive at the team, his thinking has not changed.

“I don’t think it changes a huge amount for me that Esteban has sort of moved aside. On paper, it’s definitely very good, but in my whole career, I’ve never tried to look too far ahead of myself,” Russell said.

“I’m getting asked the question a lot now about 2021, ‘is this your time?’ My opinion is I focus on race by race. If I do the best job every single weekend, that opportunity will come.

“That was the same when I was racing in Formula 3 trying to get picked up by Mercedes, the same in GP3, the same in F2, I was just telling myself, don’t think about the F1 seat, if I go out, qualify on pole and win the race, it will come to me.

“And that’s the same in this position at the moment. I’m just focused on that.”

 

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