Bahrain GP: Norfolk F1 star says he can win races with the right car

Williams driver George Russell ahead of the Formula One Bahrain Grand Prix

Williams driver George Russell - the Norfolk racer is in the hot seat ahead of the opening GP of the season - Credit: AP

Norfolk F1 star George Russell says he has proved he can fight for world titles - and wants a car that will allow him to do that.

The 23-year-old Williams driver - born in King's Lynn - came agonisingly close to a win last season when, standing in for Lewis Hamilton for Mercedes in Bahrain, he was denied by a team pit-stop error.

"That opportunity I had last year showed that when the pressure is on, when I am thrown into the deep end, I was able to do a pretty solid job," said Russell, speaking ahead of this weekend's season-opener in Bahrain.

"I got a small taste of being at the front. I believe in myself. I believe I'm capable."

Russell is in the running for a Mercedes seat in 2022, with both Hamilton and team-mate Valtteri Bottas out of contract.

"I don't believe I'm the finished product yet," he told 5 Live Breakfast. "I believe I've still got to improve but I think I'm definitely capable of winning races and fighting for World Championships.

"Ultimately I need to find myself in a car and a team that I think will give me the best opportunity in doing that because I need to be in that position now to start capitalising when I get into my prime."

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Russell said there was "no bitterness" at his Williams team, who gave him his debut in 2019, at his desire to move up the grid.

"They're realistic," he said. "They know my ambitions and they want more than anything to be able to provide me with a car that is capable of winning races and they gave me my opportunity, I'm a loyal guy, I've had a fantastic time with them, equally I don't believe I'm a driver who is deserving of finishing 20th in the championship.

"The team definitely can get back," he said. "It won't be this year, I think their mid- to long-term goals are realistic and I think the things they have put in place, they're all promising things. So as a team we will be in the bottom three this year but I'm pretty confident that Williams will not be last in 2022."

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