Formula 2 championship leader George Russell believes the performances of Charles Leclerc this season are helping his case for a Formula 1 seat in 2019.
Leclerc dominated last year’s F2 championship, and has since delivered extremely impressive performances in his rookie year for Sauber, scoring points on five occasions. With Russell leading the standings this year from McLaren reserve Lando Norris and a field featuring a number of drivers boasting F1 affiliations and testing experience, the Mercedes protege believes strong performances from the younger generation in F1 are reinforcing his own reputation.
“I think currently we are doing a very good job in F2,” Russell said. “I hope some heads have turned in the past few races and kind of noticed what we have been achieving. I purely think we just need to keep on doing what we are doing really. If you keep on winning and keep on doing stellar performances, teams are going to be interested.
“F2 credit has gone up massively since Charles [Leclerc] has done a massively good job this year at Sauber. Obviously in the past few years F1 has been changing with the likes of [Max] Verstappen, [Esteban] Ocon, Leclerc, these young guys coming in and proving they can do the job.
“I feel ready, and I don’t think there’s a huge amount more that we need to be doing. Just keep on performing, keep on winning and hopefully win the F2 championship.”
A new F2 car has meant a number of reliability issues this year – Russell has suffered three retirements – but the 19-year-old is confident that exceptional circumstances mean teams such as Williams and Force India will look beyond simply who wins the title.
“I think this season in F2 has been a bit unique for everybody,” he said. “If we were not to win the championship we can always look back and say we had a whole weekend in Budapest ruined by mechanical, we had the whole of Monaco ruined by mechanical, we had race two in Paul Ricard, didn’t start, we stalled in Bahrain. The list is just enormous.
“Everyone is having issues but we kind of are getting that unluckier moment, lets say, on tracks [where] you can’t do anything – Budapest and Monaco have been my worst two.
“What’s essential is that I keep on performing. I keep on qualifying at the front, and if I am at the back, I keep on coming back like I have been doing. So I don’t think it’s essential to win to secure that F1 seat.”