Despite George Russell finishing his maiden race with Mercedes down in P9, the young Brit’s stock has undoubtedly increased within the F1 paddock.
After qualifying just behind his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas, Russell took the lead of the Sakhir Grand Prix on the run down to turn one and looked set to win on his debut with the Silver Arrows.
However, it wasn’t to be. Mercedes put on a mixed set of tyres on Russell’s car after they pitted him under safety car conditions, and he later picked up a slow puncture which forced him into making yet another pitstop.
Off the back of Russell’s strong but disappointing outing with Mercedes, Germany’s RTL broadcaster has reported that Red Bull will “certainly try to poach” the Williams driver if the Silver Arrows don’t offer him a contract for 2021.
Russell is under contact with Williams next season, but RTL believes this won’t be an issue if Red Bull are intent on poaching him.
“His Williams contract should be the least of the problem,” the broadcaster reports.
“It would almost be a just punishment for Toto Wolff, who gave water carrier Valtteri Bottas an early preference over Russell for 2021,” they added, suggesting Mercedes were wrong to extend Bottas’ contract instead of giving Russell a chance.
At this moment in time, it looks unlikely that Mercedes will choose not to honour Bottas’ 2021 contract – and having George Russell and Lewis Hamilton in the same team is probably not ideal for the Silver Arrows, as they seem to prefer to have Hamilton as their number one driver and Bottas happily being his wingman.