George Russell says he doesn’t have any preference as to who will take over as his team mate at Mercedes once Lewis Hamilton departs from Maranello at the end of the season.

“I’d welcome anybody as my team-mate,” Russell said this week. “I feel like I’ve got a pretty good team-mate right now as it is, so yeah – I’d welcome anybody.”

F2 driver Andrea Kimi Antonelli is currently hot favourite to take the second seat at Brackley next year after completing what had been described as a ‘shootout’ test with Mercedes reserve driver Mick Schumacher.

“I think Kimi is a fantastic driver,” Russell said. “Obviously racing in Formula 2 this year, but he’s no doubt going to be a Formula 1 driver in the future,” Russell acknowledged.

“He’s a fellow junior driver as well, coming through the ranks as I did with the team, so I think it makes for a great opportunity for Mercedes building into the future.

Another name being floated around the paddock is Max Verstappen, if he can be lured away from Red Bull.

“I wouldn’t shy away from jumping alongside Max, nor would I shy away from him jumping in with us,” Russell told the British Daily Mail newspaper this week.

(L to R): George Russell (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 and Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing, in the FIA Press Conference.
23.05.2024. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 8, Monaco Grand Prix, Monte Carlo, Monaco, Preparation Day.
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“I had the biggest challenge of joining Mercedes against [Hamilton in 2022], the greatest driver of all time statistically in qualifying and in the race, and I performed against him. That’s all I can do.”

But whoever takes the spot, Russell’s objective remains the same. “My job is to beat my teammate and get the most out of the car,” he said. “I am a loyal guy and Mercedes have given me the opportunity, but I want to be a world champion.

“What gives me hope is that Max was in his seventh season when he fought for a title and I’m in my sixth,” he said. “I’m 26, and Fernando Alonso is 43: seeing him perform as he is, I see no reason why I can’t go into my forties.

“I know my time will come, I’m not worried at all,” he insisted. “I have to keep working hard and not lose motivation because you don’t know when that chance will come.

George Russell (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W15.
25.05.2024. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 8, Monaco Grand Prix, Monte Carlo, Monaco, Qualifying Day.
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He added a change in the Mercedes line-up line-up could prove to be the boost Mercedes needs to overcome its current slump. “It’s good Lewis is leaving us now rather than in 2021, when it would have been difficult for the whole team,”

“It is a fresh start for the team. So many people here have shared success with Lewis, but change often ignites a new spark for everyone,” he said. “It does that for Lewis [moving to Ferrari], and it sparks that for us here next year.

“You have to adapt and evolve, and we are in that process of building from the ground up,” he added. “A year ago McLaren were the slowest team and now they are the quickest.”

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