Max Verstappen believes George Russell “deserves more” than being left in Formula 1’s midfield and Charles Leclerc thinks the Williams driver is worthy of a Mercedes seat in 2022.
Mercedes is yet to announce who will partner Lewis Hamilton next season but there is increasing expectation that Russell will get the nod over current incumbent Valtteri Bottas.
“George is very quick, and he can’t stay where he is forever. I think he deserves more” :: Max Verstappen
Russell is in his third season of F1 and has spent his entire career so far with Williams, initially rooted to the back of the grid but gradually fighting more in the midfield.
The 23-year-old is the same age as Verstappen and Leclerc but while they have earned moves to Red Bull and Ferrari and become race winners, Russell has had to be more patient.
“George is very quick, and he can’t stay where he is forever,” said Verstappen when asked by The Race if Russell would deserve such an opportunity and whether it was important for F1 to have a driver of his calibre in a top seat.
“I think he deserves more.
“It’s up to Mercedes to make the call, not really from my side! But for sure I rate him very high as a driver.
“And he’s of course still very young as well so it’s natural that the younger guys at one point move up. Especially the good drivers.”
Leclerc raced for the Sauber team in his first year in F1 in 2018 but was so impressive he earned a swift promotion to Ferrari and won two races in his first season with the team, including Ferrari’s home race at Monza.
“It’s great if George gets that seat because he deserves it,” said Leclerc in response to the same question from The Race.
“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 George is.
“So, he definitely deserves that spot and I think it would be great to have such a talented driver in that seat.”
Leclerc faced four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel after moving to Ferrari and eclipsed him immediately, ultimately spelling the end of Vettel’s time with the team.
Getting the Mercedes driver would pit Russell against seven-time world champion Hamilton and Russell has reiterated how much he would relish that chance.
“Obviously any driver wants to go against the best and Lewis is probably the greatest of all time,” he said on Thursday.
“You want to put yourself against [the best] and see how you fare. It would be an honour for anybody to get the opportunity.
“That’s obviously all hypothetical at the moment.
“It’s the same comments as I’ve said three years ago. If I could choose anybody to race as my team-mate, Lewis would be the one.”