British prospect George Russell believes he has shot with four Formula 1 teams for next season

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Rising British star George Russell believes he could have the pick of as many as four Formula 1 teams next year.

As Lewis Hamilton heads on his summer holidays with a 24-point championship lead, Russell will be handed another audition by Mercedes when he tests for the team at the Hungaroring on Tuesday and Wednesday.

After winning the GP3 championship last year, Russell, 20, was then handed the role of test driver by Mercedes, and he now leads Formula Two, the feeder series to F1, with only four rounds remaining.

Mercedes executive director Toto Wolff is a keen admirer of the young English driver, and it is understood the Austrian is hopeful of striking a deal to move him to British team Williams in 2019. But a confident Russell says Force India, powered by Mercedes, as well as Haas and also Sauber are potential destinations, too.

“There is absolutely no reason why any of those four teams could not be an option for next year,” Russell told Press Association Sport.

“I have to wait for the drivers ahead of me to fall in place. Is Kimi Raikkonen going to stay? Is Fernando Alonso going to stay? What’s going on with Esteban Ocon at Force India? Will Charles Leclerc go to Ferrari? It is a domino effect, and I am the last domino.

“Williams is certainly appealing to me as they have got a huge history within the sport, and they are known for bringing young drivers into their car, so it would be fantastic to carry on that tradition. I also have a great relationship with Force India.

“But doing well in Formula Two is opening doors at a number of places down the grid, and there is no reason why the likes of Sauber and Haas couldn’t be an option either. If I keep doing what I am doing, I will make the opportunity for myself.”

The future of British motor racing appears in safe hands with Russell, from King’s Lynn in Norfolk, leading 18-year-old Englishman Lando Norris in F2.

Norris is the reserve driver at McLaren, and had been mooted for a promotion to their race team next year. But there is a growing feeling at the British team that he may be better served with another season in F2. Carlos Sainz is now the front-runner to join Alonso, should the Spaniard stay, at McLaren next term.

“Lando and I are friendly with each other, but there is no bitter rivalry at the moment,” Russell added.

“While I hope we can take the baton of British motorsport on, as a driver, I am focused on winning races, winning championships and getting to Formula One.

“It doesn’t make a difference to me if there is one British driver on the grid or 20. I am trying to get there regardless of nationalities. Lando is just another driver who I have got to go out and beat.”

Hamilton is the only Briton on the current F1 grid, and is now the favourite to win a fifth championship after extending his lead over Sebastian Vettel with victory in Hungary on Sunday.

“I have got tremendous respect for Lewis, and the things he does on track,” Russell added.

“In my opinion, there is nobody quicker than him over one lap, and his pace in the recent races has been immense.”

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Lewis Hamilton conquers drenched qualifying to take pole position for Hungarian Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton handled the wet conditions in qualifying.

Lewis Hamilton put his Mercedes on pole position for the Hungarian Grand Prix after delivering a masterclass in the rain.

Hamilton’s championship rival Sebastian Vettel was expected to be the fastest in the dry, but, as ever, Hamilton turned on the style when the heavens opened.

The Englishman beat team-mate Valtteri Bottas by a quarter of a second to the top slot on the grid, while Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen third.

Vettel, 17 points behind Hamilton in the championship, finished only fourth, more than half-a-second down on his rival.

Dark clouds hovered over the Hungaroring before large claps of thunder ensured a downpour was imminent.

Moments later, the rain arrived to ensure the first wet qualifying session since last September’s Italian Grand Prix.

On that day, Hamilton prevailed with a remarkable lap, and here the Briton was at it again to prove his credentials in the slippery conditions.

Vettel, who crashed out from the lead of his home race in Germany last week, appeared cautious, and will now have his work cut out from fourth at a track where overtaking is difficult.

“We couldn’t have expected this because Ferrari have been quickest all weekend,” Hamilton, only fourth in final practice, said. “We were going to try and do our best to be as close to them as possible, but then the heavens opened and it was fair game.

“It is so tricky out there. Towards the end it was getting really wet and it is difficult to arrive at the corner and know how much grip you are going to have.

“That was massively challenging. You are tip-toeing around like a ballerina. We are in a great position so we are going to do our best to keep the red guys behind us.”

Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo was the biggest victim to fall foul to the changeable conditions.

The Australian failed to get in a good enough lap at the start of Q2, and as the rain intensified, he was unable to haul his car into the top-10 shootout. He qualified only 12th.

Fernando Alonso was on hand to state just how wet the track had become when asked by his race engineer if he should stick to intermediate tyres or change to the full wet rubber.

“We should go to the garage,” he said. “Put on whatever you like. The last sector is impossible. Even if you put on a rocket ship we will [fail to improve on] 11th.”

And that is where the double world champion, who on Sunday turns 37, will start.

His team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne, who has been desperately out of sorts in recent races, was 16th.

Cash-strapped Force India were placed in administration on Friday evening following a court hearing, and their problems away from the track were replicated on it here.

Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez, the Mexican driver who initiated the legal proceedings with his sponsors owed more than £3million, fell at the first hurdle and will start only 18th and 19th of the 20 runners.

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Lewis Hamilton makes his Mercedes sing in the rain at Hungaroring

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Lewis Hamilton put his Mercedes on pole position for the Hungarian Grand Prix after delivering a masterclass in the rain.

Hamilton’s championship rival Sebastian Vettel was expected to be the fastest in the dry, but, as ever, Hamilton turned on the style when the heavens opened.

The Englishman beat team-mate Valtteri Bottas by a quarter of a second to the top slot on the grid, while Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen third.

Vettel, 17 points behind Hamilton in the championship, finished only fourth, more than half-a-second down on his rival.

Dark clouds hovered over the Hungaroring before large claps of thunder ensured a downpour was imminent.

Moments later, the rain arrived to ensure the first wet qualifying session since last September’s Italian Grand Prix.

On that day, Hamilton prevailed with a remarkable lap, and here the Briton was at it again to prove his credentials in the slippery conditions.

F1 Grand Prix of Hungary - Qualifying

Vettel, who crashed out from the lead of his home race in Germany last week, appeared cautious, and will now have his work cut out from fourth at a track where overtaking is difficult.

“We couldn’t have expected this because Ferrari have been quickest all weekend,” Hamilton, only fourth in final practice, said. “We were going to try and do our best to be as close to them as possible, but then the heavens opened and it was fair game.

“It is so tricky out there. Towards the end it was getting really wet and it is difficult to arrive at the corner and know how much grip you are going to have.

“That was massively challenging. You are tip-toeing around like a ballerina. We are in a great position so we are going to do our best to keep the red guys behind us.”

Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo was the biggest victim to fall foul to the changeable conditions.

The Australian failed to get in a good enough lap at the start of Q2, and as the rain intensified, he was unable to haul his car into the top-10 shootout. He qualified only 12th.

Fernando Alonso was on hand to state just how wet the track had become when asked by his race engineer if he should stick to intermediate tyres or change to the full wet rubber.

“We should go to the garage,” he said. “Put on whatever you like. The last sector is impossible. Even if you put on a rocket ship we will [fail to improve on] 11th.”

And that is where the double world champion, who on Sunday turns 37, will start.

His team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne, who has been desperately out of sorts in recent races, was 16th.

Cash-strapped Force India were placed in administration on Friday evening following a court hearing, and their problems away from the track were replicated on it here.

Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez, the Mexican driver who initiated the legal proceedings with his sponsors owed more than £3million, fell at the first hurdle and will start only 18th and 19th of the 20 runners.

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