Sunday, February 24
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George Russell believes that Lando Norris securing a Formula 1 seat before him assisted in pressuring Williams to sign him for 2019.

Norris was signed by McLaren in early September last year, just after impressing the team during FP1 runs in Belgium and Italy.

“Lando’s announcement so early helped me to push Williams for my drive,” explained Russell.

“Because if I was ahead of him in the [F2] championship and McLaren believed he [Norris] was worthy of a Formula 1 seat, it showed there was some great signs for myself.

“It probably added more pressure for Williams to say ‘we’ve got to go with George because he’s the guy who is winning F2’.”

Mercedes junior Russell secured his seat in October, and has since been joined by Robert Kubica for 2019.

Russell won 7 races in his Formula 2 campaign, matching the all-time record held by Charles Leclerc and Stoffel Vandoorne. He also joined Charles Leclerc, Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg and Nico Hulkenberg in taking the title in his rookie season.

However, Russell had a slow start due to the troublesome F2 clutch, while one round later he was driven off the road by Nyck de Vries while leading the Baku feature race.

An engine failure in practice in Monaco on his first visit there compromised performance, and a clutch issue from fourth on the grid in Hungary and a throttle sensor problem in France also hindered progress.

But Russell says he believed that the people responsible for his career opportunities could look past the early results.

“Whenever I had my talks with Mercedes and Toto [Wolff], they understood what was going on and understood the true potential,” adds Russell.

“They didn’t just look at the overall standings and the points we’d lost.

“That was refreshing in my mind, that as long as they were happy, they were the guys that were going to make a difference in my career.

“I’ve learned to recognise the people you need to please.

“The people I needed to please at that point were ART and Mercedes, and now they are Williams and Mercedes.

“It doesn’t matter what everyone else thinks, what the perception is, as long as they think I’m doing a good job, that’s all that matters to me.”

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