Mercedes' junior George Russell 'ready' for 2018 F1 drive

Mercedes' George Russell believes he is ready to race in Formula 1 in 2018, as he prepares to combine a Formula 2 campaign with a Force India reserve driver role

Mercedes' junior George Russell 'ready' for 2018 F1 drive

The GP3 champion took part in a grand prix weekend for the first time when he drove for Force India in first practice in Brazil.

Force India will field Russell again in FP1 in Abu Dhabi, and is lining the Mercedes junior up for a reserve driver role for next year.

Russell, who also tested for Mercedes in Hungary earlier this year, is poised to graduate to Formula 2 in 2018 but feels prepared for a shock F1 promotion if it arises.

"I feel ready for an F1 seat next season," said Russell. "I've done a lot of F1 stuff with Mercedes, I've done a lot of simulator work with them.

"I feel I've been prepared well, and I won the GP3 championship this year.

"If you look at the facts the only options are Williams or Sauber, but we'll see.

"One reason I really wanted to do this testing at the end of the year with Force India is that as we've seen in F1, anything can happen, and I want to be prepared.

"Let's say in January, if something happens, I can say I'm the guy to jump in, and I'm the guy ready to make the step."

Mercedes' four-time world champion Lewis Hamilton is contracted until the end of the 2018 season, as is Valtteri Bottas.

Russell said he knows that "realistically Mercedes are not going to put one of their drivers straight into a race driver's seat".

He has identified Force India, where fellow Mercedes junior Esteban Ocon has driven all season, as a "good place for me to learn".

"Obviously my end goal is to be an F1 world champion," said Russell.

"Hopefully one day we can progress into the main Mercedes team."

Russell was satisfied with his first day in the Force India and expects to be stronger in Abu Dhabi.

He described it as a "huge step up" but that "I think it went well".

"I've done a lot of days in the simulator at Mercedes, I've done days in the simulator at Force India," he said.

"After my two days in Budapest, this was my next step, and I think I've been as prepared as I can be, knowing that FP1 in Brazil for me was only arranged eight days ago or whatever it was.

"As I didn't know the circuit and didn't know the car I just wanted to learn as much as I can.

"I just wanted to gather as much information as possible, review it afterwards, and then I can go to Abu Dhabi and have less excuses."

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