Russell the obvious choice for Mercedes: Brawn

The 23-year-old Briton stood out in qualifying at Spa when he got on the front row of the Belgian Grand Prix grid for Williams.

George Russell and Lewis Hamilton

Williams driver George Russell, left, gives the thumbs up to Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton after qualification ahead of Formula One's Belgian Grand Prix.   -  AP

George Russell is the obvious choice for Mercedes as Lewis Hamilton's Formula One teammate next year after his performances with Williams, according to former team boss Ross Brawn.

"In my view, there is only one decision for Mercedes next year with regards to the second seat," Brawn, now Formula One's managing director for motorsport, wrote in a column on formula1.com.

The 23-year-old Briton stood out in qualifying at Spa when he got on the front row of the Belgian Grand Prix grid for Williams, a team which this month scored its first points since 2019.

The 2018 Formula Two champion then made his first podium appearance by finishing second when the race was declared after three laps behind the safety car due to the wet conditions and poor visibility.

READ | Formula One to review points rule after Belgian GP farce

Russell had already stood out for fine qualifying performances in an otherwise uncompetitive car and as a stand-in for seven-time world champion Hamilton in Bahrain last season.

He is expected to replace Valtteri Bottas, with the Finn out of contract at Mercedes. Team boss Toto Wolff said on Sunday a decision had been made.

"We all know George Russell has a fantastic talent. We have seen it a lot at Williams, and we saw it amplified at Mercedes, when he stood in for Lewis Hamilton at the Sakhir Grand Prix last year," said Brawn.

"George’s performance reminded me a lot of Fernando Alonso when he drove at a wet Spa for Minardi in 2001. He was mighty impressive in a car that clearly was not up to the job.

"In those conditions, the ratio of driver to car changes -- and we saw that with George on Saturday. He doesn’t have a front-row car but in those tricky conditions in qualifying, he trounced people with far better cars than he had."

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