Russell 'absolutely' a future Mercedes driver but wasn't compared to Bottas in test

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Toto Wolff has reassured George Russell that he remains "absolutely" a future Mercedes driver.

This comes after the Austrian claimed his outing for the team at the post-season test in Abu Dhabi was not about comparing him with race driver Valtteri Bottas.

The Finn is out of contract at Mercedes after next year and Russell is considered the top junior driver following Esteban Ocon's move to Renault.

“I’ve said to George, who was not 100 per cent [well] these last days, this test is not benchmarking him because we are absolutely certain he has the qualities of a potential future Mercedes driver,” Wolff said.

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“He has the raw speed, he has the talent, he has the intelligence. There is a reason why he has won F3 and F2 as a rookie, and he has a flawless record in Formula 1.

“It is more about experience. There is nothing to prove during this upcoming test for us."

This year has seen Russell's potential largely hidden by a poor Williams car but he would out-qualify teammate Robert Kubica 21-0 for the season.

And while a seat at Mercedes may have to wait, Wolff insists part of that is due to honouring the agreement reached with the British team.

“George is under contract with Williams, and we will always honour that contract because they have given him the chance to step into Formula 1," he explained.

“So probably if he does the test, it will just confirm what we know.”