Is this Britain's next F1 star?

New GP3 champion George Russell on the F1 Report on Wednesday at 8.30pm on Sky Sports F1

3y ago

Newly-crowned GP3 champion George Russell says he is ready to provide a solution to the British driver shortage in Formula 1, with the Mercedes protege telling the F1 Report he has his sights firmly set on a full-time seat in 2019.

Jolyon Palmer's exit from the sport means that, should Paul di Resta not secure a Williams drive, Lewis Hamilton will almost certainly be the sole Brit on the grid next season.

It would be the first time in F1's history that there have been so few Brits driving over a full campaign.

But fresh from claiming the GP3 title in Jerez in his debut season with ART, Russell, who tested for Mercedes during August's in-season test in Budapest, believes he could be next in line - and revealed he was even eyeing a seat for 2018 before options were closed off.

The paucity of British drivers is certainly a rarity in a sport where as many as 12 participated in its first season in 1950. As recently as 2013, Britain had four drivers on the grid in Hamilton, Jenson Button, Di Resta and Max Chilton, while a total of 26 competed through the 1980s and 1990s.

But with Palmer being dumped by Renault before the conclusion of the 2017 season, the United States GP will be the first race since 2005 - when Button was disqualified for two events - where only one Brit competes.

There could be hope for the future, however, with Russell part of a talented crop of youngsters rising through the ranks.

"There's been a bit of a generation gap of the high-performing Brits," Sky F1's Marc Priestley, joining Russell in the studio with Natalie Pinkham, explained.

"Obviously I've done a lot of work with Mercedes this season, and I got an opportunity to drive the car in the mid-season test," the 19-year-old said on the F1 Report - which airs at 8.30pm on Wednesday night on Sky Sports F1. "I feel ready for a seat next season but I'm also realistic.

"It's all about timing in this sport and unfortunately the timing isn't quite right for next year. But 2019 is my main goal."

"But the great thing is that we've got a fantastic array of youngsters on the way up - and George fits directly into that category. So the future looks very bright for British motorsport and British drivers."

Russell's main GP3 title rival this year was Renault junior Jack Aitken, while GP2 hope Oliver Rowland is under the same Enstone stable. Lando Norris, meanwhile, is leading the F3 championship and impressed alongside Russell at the Hungary in-season test for McLaren, and Enaam Amed, the 2017 British F3 champion, is also highly regarded.

"Obviously Lando is having a great season this year, and a bit lower down Enaam Amed is doing well," Russell added. "We've gone through a bit of a spell where there hasn't been many British drivers coming into Formula 1, but I feel that in two or three years' time it could all change again."

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Comments (2)

  • Hope he makes it. Could have him and Lando Norris on the grid within a couple of years

      3 years ago
  • f2 could be good for the Brits next season.

      3 years ago