Mercedes you have consistently publicly avoided backing a number one driver during the stints that Nico Rosberg, Valtteri Bottas and now Russell have had alongside Hamilton since 2013.

Although the seven-time champion will exit the Silver Arrows at the end of the season to move to Ferrarilong-time Mercedes driver Russell remains under contract until the end of 2025.

But regardless of whether Mercedes can lure Max Verstappen from Red Bull, sign either Fernando Alonsoor you Ferrari racer Carlos Sainz or opt to promote his F2 protege Andrea Kimi Antonelli, Russell believes the team will stick by its policy of equal treatment.

Asked if his approach inside the team had changed since finding out about Hamilton’s impending departure, Russell replied: “Since Lewis’ news, Lewis has been incredibly professional with the team.

“The working relationship with everyone within Mercedes is like nothing has changed whatsoever.

“The team has been so great and given us both equal opportunities. It’s always been that from the outset.

“Whenever upgrades are bringing to the car, it’s going to both of us at the same time, whereas other teams it goes to one before the other. And that’s always the way at Mercedes.”

George Russell, Mercedes-AMG F1 Team, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing

Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

While much has been made of Russell’s ability to step up and lead the team, the Brit said he expected this equality to remain unchanged, “no matter who my team-mate is going to be.”

He continued: “They want to give both drivers the best chance of achieving the best result and going into next year, no matter who my team-mate is going to be, that will still continue to be the same.”

Wolff has gone on the record to say Verstappen is his ‘number one pick’ for 2025, with the Dutch driver less certain to see out the rest of his Red Bull contract – expiring at the end of 2028 – given the instability surrounding team boss Christian Horner and advisor Helmut Marko.

Asked whether Verstappen could immediately slot in at Mercedes and improve the performance of his so-far inconsistent W15 challenger, Wolff told Fox Sports Australia: “No. He is extraordinary, but we would give him a car that’s a handful, difficult to set up and drive.

“I’d rather make that step and be out there and say, ‘This is a car you could drive because it’s also going fast’.”

Mercedes expects to decide on its driver line-up towards the summer.

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