Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has confirmed that George Russell is still very much a part of the long-term vision of the Silver Arrows in Formula 1.
Russell impressed during his rookie F1 season by outqualifying his more experienced team-mate, Robert Kubica, at every grand prix in 2019.
A strong start to 2020, which has included two Q2 appearances with the Briton qualifying 12th on each occasion, had spurred rumour the Mercedes junior could replace Valtteri Bottas in the factory outfit for '21.
However, as Russell confirmed during the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend, he will remain at Williams for another year, which led some to question what more the driver could do to earn a Mercedes call up.
Facing questions with regard to Russell's future, Wolff confirmed: "George is certainly part of the plans in the long-term but not for 2021."
He added: "George has a three-year contract with Williams which has one more year, Claire [Williams - deputy team principal] has made it very clear that she sees George as an important asset to the team, and from that side one must respect the contractual situation.
"We knew, George and us, what we were getting ourselves into two years ago. Williams gave George the opportunity to come into Formula 1, and this is why the position Williams has taken is very much respected.
"On the other side, it doesn't mean that if George was free, he would find a guaranteed slot within Mercedes."
Neither Lewis Hamilton nor Valtteri Bottas have yet been confirmed as Mercedes drivers for '21, although the latter recently revealed talks of a new deal were "moving in the right direction".
If, as is widely expected, Mercedes were to retain an unaltered lineup into next season, the Hamilton-Bottas combination would be the longest standing partnership at the team since Mercedes returned to F1 in 2010.
"We are very happy with the line-up we have, Valtteri and Lewis," said Wolff. "They perform well, they get on really well with each other, which is important for the dynamic within the team and the engineers who just really appreciate their feedback.
"Valtteri and Lewis are our drivers today, and loyalty is something that is very important to us, and we are always looking at the long-term picture."
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