George Russell says he won't be heading into the 2021 season thinking about his chances of securing a drive with Mercedes in 2022, knowing that a driver's prospects can change on a whim in F1.
Russell's spectacular one-off with Mercedes at last year's Sakhir GP comforted his position as a top candidate for a plum drive with F1's dominant team.
But while a royal path to Mercedes appears open to the Briton, the Williams driver is keeping his expectations in check, insisting his priority at the outset this season is to give it his all to his current employer.
"At the moment I'm just respectful to everybody at Williams and I will just be giving my absolute all for that team, as they have done for me for the last two years," Russell told Motorsport.com.
"I don't like to think about the future. This sport changes incredibly quickly, people's perception of drivers - your reputation [can change fast]. And outside factors, as we've seen [can come into play]."
As a case in point, Russell referenced his unexpected call-up by Mercedes in Bahrain, an opportunity that came out of the blue.
"Nobody could have predicted the events that happened," he said. "Telling me in the middle of the year that I'd have been leading the race, and that I should have won a race this year, and starting in the front row - because I didn't even think it would be possible to be.... I didn't even think it was possible to get the chance for Mercedes, as a reserve driver."
"We'd spoken [with Williams] about this in the past and it was a 'no go'. But fortunately, the new owners were very open, and they wanted to give me that opportunity, potentially, to see how I would perform as well.
"So I didn't even think that possibility [was realistic] even if Lewis or Valtteri [Bottas] were to miss a race. I didn't think it would be possible anyway."