Mercedes boss Toto Wolff insists George Russell is not testing with the team this week because he has anything to prove, and remains confident the young driver has the talent to race for the Silver Arrows in the future.
Russell is coming off a difficult debut season in Formula 1, as although he has outperformed veteran team-mate Robert Kubica in every single round of qualifying, his Williams has simply not been competitive enough to consistently race against the rest of the grid.
He remains a Mercedes junior driver, and as such has had and will get more opportunities to test for the team, like this week in Abu Dhabi.
Wolff says there is no “benchmark” to be reached at Yas Marina, however.
“I’ve said to George, who was not 100 per cent these last days, this test is not benchmarking him because we are absolutely certain he has the qualities of a potential future Mercedes driver,” The Mercedes boss said of Russell, who battled a slight illness in Abu Dhabi.
“He has the raw speed, he has the talent, he has the intelligence. There is a reason why he has won F3 and F2 as a rookie, and he has a flawless record in Formula 1.
“It is more about experience. There is nothing to prove during this upcoming test for us.”
There was speculation during the season that Mercedes could recall Russell back from his tenure at Williams early due to his status as a junior driver for the team, but that was quickly kiboshed with him set to stay with Williams for at least the duration of his current deal.
“George is under contract with Williams, and we will always honour that contract because they have given him the chance to step into Formula 1,” Wolff added.
“So probably if he does the test, it will just confirm what we know.”
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