George Russell says he would welcome the challenge of Nico Hulkenberg joining the Williams Formula 1 team for 2020 so he can continue to further his reputation.
Williams’s current reserve driver Nicholas Latifi remains favourite to take the seat that will be vacated by Robert Kubica at the end of the season, which would make Russell the senior driver in the team’s line-up in only his second year in F1.
However, Hulkenberg – who was dropped by Renault and missed out on a Haas seat – is an obvious candidate should the team be in a position to recruit a driver who does not bring a budget.
“My preference is to have the fastest driver possible next to me,” he said.
“I’m doing my best to prove what I can do to everybody, and I want the opportunity again to show that.
“But ultimately, from my side, I focus on myself, my own job, my engineers.
“I feel ready to take control, lead the team if it was to be a rookie to come alongside me, but equally I’d probably be just as happy to have an experienced guy such as Hulkenberg coming in, with a good reputation and experience.
“I’m sure I can learn some things from him but again, it gives me a very good opportunity to show what I can do.”
In Singapore last weekend deputy team principal Claire Williams insisted that the team did not necessarily need an experienced driver, as Russell had already demonstrated leadership qualities.
“That’s one argument in favour of bringing an experienced driver in, in order to help lead the team and guide the team,” she said.
“But equally there’s no reason to say that a younger driver couldn’t do that as well.
“George is a perfect example with the work that he’s done for us this year.
“It’s his first year in F1, he’s been able to help lead the team in an extraordinary way, to be honest, in what’s been a very difficult year for him.
“He comes to the track, puts a smile on his face, and he leads the team. He knows and understands that responsibility outside the cockpit, as he does the responsibility inside the cockpit.”
When told about Williams’s praise, Russell said he has always tried to motivate his teams.
“I’ve done that in my whole career really,” he said.
“I think it’s the driver’s job to build the team, keep them all motivated, especially with your own engineers to try and build that relationship. It’s just a bigger scale now in Formula 1.
“I put a lot of work in, probably spend more days in the factory compared to any other driver on the grid, on the simulator trying to develop that and prepare for the weekend, spend time with the engineers, I see that as just being my role as a driver.”