How George Russell stunned Mercedes and secured dream F1 drive – with a PowerPoint plan
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F1: George Russell hikes during the off-season

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George Russell is highly-regarded by Mercedes and is expected to one day shine for the all-conquering Formula One giants – but he had to fight to land a contract with the team.

The British starlet, 23, has impressed in his two seasons in Formula One with Williams, having essentially been loaned to the team by Mercedes.

The Silver Arrows announced Russell as part of their famed Junior Driver Programme back in 2017, with Russell rising through the karting ranks at a rapid pace, before he landed his place on the F1 grid for the 2019 season.

He is about to embark on his third and final year-long spell with the Grove-based outfit and, should he continue to impress, a seat in the championship-winning Mercedes car could await for him next campaign.

And, while the youngster may only have just two seasons under his belt in Formula One, there’s no doubting his ability behind the wheel.

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He has consistently out-qualified his Williams team-mates and produced a stunning debut for the Silver Arrows at last season’s Sakhir Grand Prix.

Russell was called upon after seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton was struck down with Covid-19, ruling him out of the race.

The 22-year-old was on course for victory before a Mercedes pit-stop howler, and late puncture, denied him a deserved triumph.

But that performance undoubtedly impressed Mercedes, who are in an uncertain position as both Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas are out of contract at the end of the season.

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Indeed, Russell had been impressing Silver Arrows bosses ever since he walked into their offices aged 15.

Mercedes chief Toto Wolff, speaking last year, recalled the day he was first impressed by Russell – when he rocked up wearing a business suit.

“I’ve had his contract since he was 15 years old,” Wolff told Sky Germany.

“He notified me via e-mail that he was in need of advice, told me he had previously won the British karting championship and just become British Formula 4 champion.

“He came to my office, all alone in a black suit with a black tie – it must have been his communion suit because it was a bit tight – and a PowerPoint presentation.

“In this presentation, he listed every reason why he could be a successful Mercedes driver in the future.

“He also had a question. He wanted to race with Carlin in Formula 3 and asked if it was a no-go for me because they used Volkswagen engines. I told him ‘no, that’s fine, if you want to race with Carlin, go ahead’.

“And he has been under contract with Mercedes ever since.”

Giving more details of his presentation, Wolff added: “It was well made, although he was a bit nervous.

“He also looked a little more like an accountant than a racing driver.

“First was his resume along with his previous experiences. Then a page with his strengths, followed by one with his weaknesses, followed by how he wants to continue working on his weaknesses.

“He also had a career road-map laid out, with his end goal being to drive for the Mercedes Formula 1 team. So he had it all planned out in his head back then already.”

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