Mercedes boss Toto Wolff believes F1 rookie George Russell embodies many of the qualities required to shine in Grand Prix racing, and ultimately to become a star.
Russell steps up to the big time this season after an impressive last couple of formative years during which he secured successive titles in the GP3 Series GP3 in 2017 and in the FIA Formula 2 Championship in 2018.
The 20-year-old young charger is seen as the real deal by insiders, a perception that has warranted the Mercedes protégé’s graduation to F1 this year with Williams.
They say one never gets a chance to make a first impression. And when Russell met with Wolff the very first time, he certainly got the Mercedes boss’ attention.
“My first encounter with George was when he was 15 or 16 years old, and he asked me for a meeting,” said Wolff, speaking to Formula1.com.
“I really enjoy meeting those young kids full of dreams. He came in a black suit and a tie with a notebook, and he said ‘I’ve just won – I think it was the F4 title in British F4 – and I’m considering doing F3.
‘My feeling is that I should be staying with a British team because I’m very young and I understand Carlin, and would that close the Mercedes door for me if I’m not on a Mercedes engine in F3 in my first year?’
Wolff was impressed by the young man’s maturity and his way of thinking.
“It was such a reflective question from a 15-year-old or 16-year-old, it was really amazing,” said the Austrian
“So he has the brain, he has the empathy, the social skills and the driving.
“I can only repeat what Sebastien Philippe [Russell’s boss at ART, his F2 team] told me. He said he’s one of the best we’ve ever had within our team.
“I think we might have another young British boy here that can become a star in the future.”
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