Russell: 'Norris deal with McLaren helped me with Williams'

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George Russell believes Lando Norris' early signing with McLaren helped his cause with Williams as it pressured the team to snap up the Brit and leader of the F2 championship.

Norris signed his F1 deal with McLaren in September, at a time when Russell had secured five wins in F2 against just one victory at that point for Norris.

Russell - Mercedes protégé - had been courting Williams for over a year, and again promoted his merits to Claire Williams and Paddy Lowe over the summer.

While Williams was keeping an eye on the young man's career, it really focused its attention on him after Norris' signing with McLaren, according to Russell.

"Lando’s announcement so early helped me to push Williams for my drive," he said.

"Because if I was ahead of him in the championship and McLaren believed he was worthy of a Formula 1 seat it showed there was some great signs for myself.

"And it probably added more pressure for Williams to say we’ve got to go with George because he’s the guy who is winning F2."

Formula 2 fulfilled this season its feeder role for F1 with the top three drivers of the series - Russell, Norris and Alexander Albon - all graduating to F1.

Russell said the latter, who will be racing for Toro Rosso in 2019, fully deserved his promotion to the big time.

"I’m really happy for him. He’s a really great driver," said the 2019 Williams driver.

"He’s had probably not the easiest junior career, but he is no doubt a great driver and deserves this opportunity.

"I think after a few races, as obviously he doesn’t have any Formula 1 experience at the moment, but I really think come the end of the year, he’ll be able to put in some really good performances."

The 20-year-old is delighted to see the recognition his generation is getting from F1, believing his young peers are members of a very talented group of drivers.

"Formula 1 teams are starting to recognise the level in junior motorsport," Russell added.

"I think we’ve all been very lucky, especially myself and Lando, to be around a Formula 1 team for a couple of years now, and going to the races, and we learn a huge amount.

"Of course you always get quicker and when you gain experience, you just become more knowledgeable. I think this generation of drivers is a very, very good one.

"When you’re aiming for Formula 1, you don’t expect that you’re going to be racing the exact same guys you were racing all those years ago."

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