Russell is going head-to-head with Mercedes incumbent Valtteri Bottas in the race to partner seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton at the German marquee next season.

Mercedes is yet to decide on who it will place alongside Hamilton for 2022 and Russell and Bottas remained coy about the situation as they faced the media for the first time since returning from F1’s summer break ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix this weekend.

Speaking later on Thursday, Verstappen, who was fast-tracked into his current Red Bull seat after just over one full-season in F1, reckons Russell is ready to make the step up to a front-running team.

“For sure George is very quick and he can’t stay where he is forever,” Verstappen replied when asked if he felt Russell deserved the Mercedes seat.

“I think he deserves more. But at the end of the day it is up to Mercedes to make the call right, so it’s not really from my side.

“But for sure I rate him as a driver and he is still very young as well, so it’s natural that at some point they move up, especially the good drivers.”

Like Verstappen, Leclerc also earned his promotion to Ferrari after just a single season in the lower midfield with Sauber.

Russell has so far been made to wait for his big F1 break despite consistent starring displays for Williams in his two-and-a-half seasons at Grove.

And Leclerc feels his former F3 rookie rival deserves his chance to shine at Mercedes.

“It’s great if George gets that seat because he deserves it,” said Leclerc.

“It is always very difficult to judge in Formula 1, because the cars are so different and obviously with George being at Williams it is always difficult to judge how much of a good job he’s doing.

“He’s consistently there and showing good things and also in the past I’ve raced with him and I know how strong is George.

“So, he definitely deserves that spot and I think it would be great to have such a talented driver in that seat.”