Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko has revealed that George Russell already has a contract agreement with Mercedes amid speculation that he’s set to replace Valtteri Bottas. Russell has been limited to fighting at the back of the grid with Williams in his first two seasons in F1.
But despite not having the car to truly compete with the frontrunners, Russell has been highly praised for getting the most out of his car.
He has a perfect qualifying record at Williams against his team-mates, but his shining moment came at the Sakhir Grand Prix when he took Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes seat.
The race weekend gave Russell an opportunity to showcase his true talents and he performed above expectations as he looked set to claim his first Grand Prix win, only for a pitstop error and a puncture to deny him victory.
He ended up finishing ninth, behind Bottas, but the evidence was there that Russell was more than capable of racing competitively with the sport’s best drivers.
And his performance led to immediate speculation of a potential permanent switch to Mercedes in the near future.
Williams have him tied down until the end of the 2021 season and Mercedes already made a swift decision to stick with Bottas for the upcoming campaign.
Lewis Hamilton is yet to sign a new deal, although it is expected that the seven-time world champion will stay on board.
There were even rumours earlier this month that Red Bull were keeping an eye on Russell’s situation.
But Marko has denied any approach was even considered, insisting Russell is already tied down to a 10-year contract with Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff.
When asked whether there was ever a consideration of trying to bring Russell to Red Bull, Marko told Motorsport-total: “No. He has a ten-year contract with Toto Wolff. He is a Mercedes Junior.
“We were looking for an interim solution for a year. Perez is the much better option.”
When pressed further, Marko made it clear that stealing Russell away from Mercedes was never viable.
“Russell is a Mercedes junior. You don’t have to put a false label on it,” he added.
The Red Bull chief did go on to praise Russell for his impact since breaking into F1 in 2019, but believes comparisons with Valtteri Bottas after one race in a Mercedes are unfair.
“Russell is an intelligent and fast young man. His Mercedes effort was great,” Marko added.
“At the same time it was characterized by such uncertainty on the part of Bottas that it was actually not a valid comparison.”