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George Russell has insisted he remains focused on the 2021 season at Williams, despite taking on one of the biggest challenges of his career next season as the 23-year-old moves to Mercedes.
Russell will partner Lewis Hamilton next season at the British-based German team, replacing Valtteri Bottas at the seven-time world champions.
However, with the pressures surrounding the much-anticipated move, Russell was adamant his eyes are firmly set on finishing his partnership with Williams. Yet the Briton did admit he has entertained the idea of being alongside one of the most decorated drivers on the grid next season.
“The relationship with Lewis hasn’t changed but I am sure it will grow as we start working more together,” Russell said on Thursday during the press conference for the Turkish Grand Prix.
“I haven’t really cast an eye on 2022 yet and I think for everybody, we just want to get this season out of the way.
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“We’re all in our own battles and it would be too early to start trying to integrate the two as it would just become a distraction for me, a distraction for them.
Russell has impressed at Williams this season in an underperforming car, and since scoring his first in Hungary has gone from strength to strength this season.
He currently sits 15th in the driver’s standings on 16 points, and with seven races remaining, the 23-year-old was pleased with the British team’s performance this season.
“You always hope and you always think [the car] will be an improvement on the previous one,” he said.
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“But certainly after the Bahrain test and the Bahrain race, there was no way I thought those stats would have been possible.
“There’s a lot to thank the team, for making a lot of good decisions at the right moments. If we think back to these races, Spa was obviously wet, last week [in Sochi] was very tricky conditions in both qualifying and the race.
“Budapest also, started the race on inters and it was only really in Monza when the conditions were pretty stable, but even then we had the Sprint race format, so things were different again.
“So I think we’ve just done an amazing job these past five races, been in the right place at the right time to capitalise on these moments, and I think we’ve improved the car as well along the way.”
Williams scored their first haul of points since 2019 after a tricky few years in the championship.
However, the Briton admitted this season they’ve exceeded expectations.
“We’ve understood it more,” Russell explained. “We’ve tried some things and things have turned out better than perhaps we would have expected. And I think we’ve found a bit of performance there.
“It was maybe a little shame not to score some more points in Sochi given the circumstances at the end of the race. We had a really difficult final stint, but it’s definitely been a good five races or so.”
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