Mercedes not using Abu Dhabi test to 'benchmark' George Russell
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has stressed that the team will not be “benchmarking” George Russell during his impending test for the manufacturer.
Russell has been backed by Mercedes since 2017 and went on to claim successive titles in the GP3 Series and Formula 2, before stepping up to Formula 1 with Williams this year.
Russell has driven each of Mercedes’ most recent Formula 1 cars during in-season testing and will have a second outing of the year in the W10 on Wednesday.
The Briton will take over testing duties at the Yas Marina Circuit from Valtteri Bottas, with both regular race drivers scheduled to be in Kuala Lumpur for a sponsor event.
Russell is already under contract to remain as a Williams race driver in 2020 and Wolff played down the significance of his upcoming Mercedes outing
“I’ve said to George, who was not 100 percent these last days, this test is not benchmarking him because we are absolutely certain he has the qualities of a potential future Mercedes driver,” said Wolff.
“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.
“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. It [the test] will just confirm what we know.”
Russell out-qualified Robert Kubica at each of the 21 grands prix but finished behind in the standings on account of the point the Polish driver earned at the rain-hit German Grand Prix.