Williams driver George Russell says he is “focused on the here and now” and won’t become distracted by any speculation linking him to a future Mercedes seat, asserting that no promises have been made.
Mercedes-backed Russell is entering the final season of a three-year deal with Williams but underlined his credentials during his stand-in appearance for the World Champions in Bahrain last December.
Neither Lewis Hamilton nor Valtteri Bottas is currently contracted to Mercedes beyond the end of 2021.
“[Mercedes] have told me that I am a part of their future, whenever that may be, again, is when they believe the time is right,” said Russell.
“I obviously had a taste of life at the front of the grid last year but I’m just focused on the here and now, focusing on Bahrain.
“If I perform on track and I deliver, continue on the same path and progress that I’ve been on so far I guess in the future the opportunity will come, but I’m not even thinking about it. And no promises have been made [by Mercedes], at all.”
Russell nonetheless suggested that he will have to make “a very interesting decision” at some stage this year depending on how the situation unfolds.
“First and foremost I am a Williams driver this year,” he said.
“If that were not going to happen that most of you guys are speculating… it’s an interesting position for me but as it currently stands with the whole investment from Dorilton, the changes I’ve already seen taking place at Williams.
“Williams have finished last in the Constructors’ [Championship] for the past three seasons, I don’t think that will be the case in 2022. I see a very bright future here.
“There’s a massive opportunity for every team in F1 for 2022 and as the guys have said with the investment we’ve got, with the guys who are already here, with the likes of Jost [Capito] and the guys that are coming in, the relationship that has been built with Mercedes. It’s looking very exciting for the team.
“I guess I’ve got a very interesting decision on my hands towards the middle of this year but I am not even thinking about that now, we’re still over a year away yet.”