Norris snubbed as Russell backed to succeed Hamilton and Verstappen

F1 fans expect George Russell to be the next world champion not named Lewis Hamilton or Max Verstappen. The pair have claimed eight of the last nine available Drivers’ Championships with Nico Rosberg the only exception in 2016.

Verstappen is on course to copy Hamilton this season with the feat of winning three in a row. That is an achievement only ever managed by the Mercedes man, Sebastian Vettel, Michael Schumacher and Juan Manuel Fangio in the sport’s 73-year history.

The Red Bull driver may even harbour ambitions of eventually matching Hamilton – his 2021 title rival – on seven crowns given he is still just 25 years old. Eventually, however, his tight grip on the driver’s title will be relinquished.

And Express Sport readers think it will be Hamilton’s Mercedes team-mate George Russell who takes the crown from Verstappen’s head. Asked who the next F1 champion will be not named Verstappen or Hamilton, Russell earned 49 per cent of the votes.

That means around 2,500 F1 fans are giving Russell their backing. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc had just 18 per cent of the votes despite having five race wins to Russell’s one.

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Behind the Monegasque were two-time world champion Fernando Alonso (14 per cent) and Sergio Perez (10 per cent). Lando Norris earned a mere four per cent of the votes with few fans having faith in McLaren to give the popular young Briton a car capable of challenging at the front.

He is still yet to win a race despite six podiums. In fact, five per cent voted ‘other’ with Carlos Sainz among the alternative options to win a title.

Much may depend on whether the likes of Leclerc and Norris move to other teams, with both linked to Red Bull and Mercedes given their current employers’ struggles. What is clear, though, is that the seat next to Russell at Mercedes will not be up for grabs any time soon.

Hamilton, despite turning 38 in January, has made it clear he plans to remain in F1 for the foreseeable future and wants to stay with the Silver Arrows. He is in discussions with the team over a new contract and said recently: “I continue to feel very much at home. It’s family. I see myself being with Mercedes till my last days, to be honest.

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“If you look at the legends, Sir Stirling Moss was with Mercedes till the end of days. So, that’s been the dream for me to one day have that… well I have that, so I mean just continue on with that and continue to build with the brand.”

Team boss Toto Wolff also explained: “I don’t want to engage in discussions with other drivers, because I’m happy with the ones that are in the team, that’s for sure.

“At the moment, there is no Plan B. It’s Lewis. I think that he would tell us early enough. I don’t think that Lewis would say: ‘I can’t do this any more. I’m out of here tomorrow’. He would always feel the responsibility for the team.”

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