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George Russell

Russell lays down Verstappen gauntlet: 'I want to race the best'

George Russell will have a new team-mate in 2025, and would welcome Max Verstappen to Mercedes.

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George Russell has backed himself to succeed in a fight against Max Verstappen, if the three-time world champion was to move to Mercedes.

Verstappen's Red Bull future has been in doubt over recent weeks due to the ongoing political turmoil at the team and Adrian Newey's impending departure as Chief Technical Officer.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has launched a charm offensive to try and sign Verstappen - who indicated himself that not even a €250 million euro package could tempt him, given the current competitive state of Mercedes.

But Russell, who beat the outgoing Lewis Hamilton in his first season at Mercedes in 2022 and is currently in seventh place in the Drivers' to Hamilton's ninth is sure he could beat the Dutchman.

"I'd be all for it," Russell told media including RacingNews365 of the potential arrival of Verstappen.

"Coming into Mercedes in 2022, off the back of Lewis's legendary years and victories was a huge task for anybody, jumping into a team where he's been for so long.

"I believe in myself, that you need to go up against the best in the same machinery and show what you've got.

"I feel that having Lewis as my team-mate for the past three years, he's been a hell of a team-mate, and we push each other every single week and so it is fair to say that I would welcome Max.

"I want to go against the best, so yeah, make it happen."

Russell's opinion

As the Mercedes driver who will be staying on for 2025, Russell's opinion over his team-mate could prove important in Wolff's final decision - but this is not something Russell believes will ultimately make any difference.

"He doesn't need to ask my view or opinion, I've made it clear that I would welcome anybody," Russell added of Wolff's decision.

"Having the chance to sign someone like Max, every team would go for it and I feel privileged to have had the chance of being team-mates with Lewis, who is still statistically the greatest driver of all time and week in, week out battling with him.

"To have a chance to do that with somebody like Max would be great for me personally because I believe in myself and in my abilities.

"For Mercedes, it is a long-term project, we've got the big rules coming up in 2026 and it is important to have good harmony between '25 and '26.

"But ultimately, it comes down to 2,000 people at the factory between the engine, the chassis and the new fuels that are coming in are ultimately going to make the biggest difference.

"But of course, as I said, if you could sign Max, which team wouldn't?"

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RESULTS 2024 F1 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix - Qualifying