06 March 2024

George Russell would relish ‘exciting’ Max Verstappen battle at Mercedes

06 March 2024

George Russell has said he would welcome the exciting challenge of going up against Max Verstappen at Mercedes.

Verstappen has won 18 of the last 19 races but his future at Red Bull is in the spotlight after his father Jos Verstappen called on team principal Christian Horner to be dismissed.

The apparent division at Red Bull has led to speculation that Verstappen, 26, could leave if Horner remains in his post – and Mercedes have refused to rule out a move for the triple world champion.

A vacancy has opened up at the Silver Arrows for 2025 following Lewis Hamilton’s shock decision to join Ferrari next season.

“This is my third season alongside Lewis, the greatest of all time, and I feel like I have done a pretty good job alongside him,” said Russell.

“So, whoever were to line up alongside me, I welcome the challenge.

“You want to go against the best. I am focused on myself but I believe I can beat anybody on the grid. Having Lewis as my benchmark has been a good benchmark for sure.”

Verstappen’s current deal with Red Bull runs until 2028.

Russell continued: “Any team wants to have the best driver line-up possible and right now Max is the best driver on the grid.

“If any team had a chance to sign Max they would 100 per cent be taking it, but the question is on his side and Red Bull’s side and we don’t know what is truly going on behind closed doors and it is none of our business, but it would be exciting.”

Russell was speaking ahead of this weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix and only a handful of days after Verstappen Snr cast doubt over his son’s Red Bull seat.

Verstappen Snr said: “There is tension here while he (Horner) remains in position.

“The team is in danger of being torn apart. It can’t go on the way it is. It will explode. He is playing the victim, when he is the one causing the problems.”

Verstappen will face the media in Jeddah later on Wednesday, while Horner, who held clear-the air-talks with his star driver’s manager Raymond Vermeulen earlier this week, will be in Thursday’s FIA team principals’ press conference.

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