F1 2021 One to Watch: Can George Russell stake his claim for a 2022 Mercedes seat?

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F1 2021 gets underway this weekend with Bahrain hosting the opening Grand Prix of the season at the Sakhir circuit.

The teams have already spent time in the Middle East nation for testing earlier this month, but now the real racing is nearly upon us and each of the drivers will be looking to make an impression in the coming 23-race calendar.

Among them, Williams driver George Russell, who we take a closer look at here in our first of five 'One to Watch' pieces this week...

Last year was certainly another impressive one for Russell as he underlined his potential with a stellar performance, funnily enough back at Sakhir, in the Mercedes in a race that was cruelly taken away from him by serious bad luck.

That, though, coupled with the routine outclassing of his teammate Nicholas Latifi in the Williams throughout the season reaffirmed the belief for many that it's a matter of when and not if Russell gets a drive for one of the top teams.

Of course, Williams would like to be a top team once again in quick order, but Russell may need to move on before waiting to see if that happens - the Grove-based team are expected to be towards the rear of the field again this year, though, they shouldn't be the ultimate back-markers.

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With both Mercedes drives for 2022 currently available as both Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas are just on one-year contracts for this season, Russell is perhaps the best-placed to stake a claim to replace one of the current Merc stars having now shown what he can do with top equipment.

Again, expectations for him this season will be tempered in the Williams, but that hasn't stopped him before and, if he can produce another superlative year, it seems unthinkable that he won't be banging on the door of one, or several, of the top teams come the chequered flag in Abu Dhabi in December.

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