Williams driver George Russell has said he believes Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc will be Formula 1’s biggest talents in the future – and the young Brit is open to going toe-to-toe with them, even as a team-mate.
With Sir Lewis Hamilton considering retiring from F1 at the end of the season – and with Valtteri Bottas also only on a one-year deal at Mercedes – Russell has a good chance of joining the Silver Arrows for 2022 despite team principal Toto Wolff recently joking that he currently has a better chance of competing in the Renault Clio Cup.
And with Leclerc on a long-term deal at Ferrari and Verstappen also set to stay at Red Bull next year, the trio could well all find themselves in front-running teams, though it remains to be seen how F1’s pecking order will be affected by next year’s regulation changes.
In a recent interview, Russell said he feels there could be a “fierce rivalry” between him, Verstappen and Leclerc in the future.
“I think Charles and Max are the two. They’re the two I suspect who will be at the top in the future,” Russell told RacingNews365.com.
“They are respectively in two of the three best teams at the moment or the most successful teams, at least from the last 20 years.
“I see that potentially there could be a fierce rivalry in the future so I look forward to that challenge.
“Whether that’s fighting against them in different cars, or whether that’s fighting against each other as teammates,” he added.
Asked for his thoughts on any differences between Leclerc and Verstappen, in terms of strengths and weaknesses, Russell replied:
“I’m not too sure what sets them about to be honest.
“I think Max in the last two years has really, really gone to another level. I think that is been a factor of firstly, being an incredible driver, but being in the same team. Just that consistency is something that just naturally comes along. “
Charles is only in his third season now with Ferrari. I still think it takes a bit of time for all of these small updates to be directed in a way that will suit you personally as a driver.
“They’re both absolutely incredible drivers and they’re going to be at the top of the sport for the coming 10 years,” he concluded.
Russell was having a strong race at Imola – with him running in P9 and being in a good position to score his first points with Williams since he joined the team in 2019 – but he collided with the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas and his grand prix immediately came to an end.