New Mercedes driver George Russell revealed that he had an offer from a rival team, saying that another German giant had come calling.
Russell had initially turned down Mercedes as a sponsor in the European F3 championship, opting to go with Carlin and Volkswagen. However, when he turned 16, BMW approached him with an offer to race in DTM. The Bavarians were impressed with his pace after having him in a private test, and wanted to sign him immediately.
With his ties to Mercedes, the Englishman informed Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff of his decision. The Austrian, however, told him that he would return with another offer, but with BMW inserting themselves into the picture, things took a turn.
Russell revealed that he had the offer from Mercedes’ rival team, and explained that he was left with a decision to make.
“After my meeting with Toto at the start of 2015, I sent him an e-mail just to say ‘I really appreciate the meeting and thanks for all of your advice etc…just to let you know, I’ll actually be joining Carlin and Volkswagen because I believe it’s better for my career’,” Russell told the Motor Sport Magazine podcast.
“I had the opinion that if I went out and did a good job, Mercedes would still be interested. So he replied back ‘I think you’re making a wrong decision but let’s stay in touch and let’s see where we go from there’.”
“It was absolutely clear from Mercedes-Benz, if you signed with BMW there won’t be an option with Mercedes in the future…’if you sign the BMW contract, we are out’,” he continued.
“So I’ve got this contract on the table from BMW to go and race DTM, which at the time was probably the best championship after Formula 1. I was a 16-year-old at the time, 16/17 years old with a lot of money on the table. And it was all quite shocking. It all came so sudden. I’ve done a test that went incredibly well, the contract’s on the table three days later.
“I’ve not really had any communications with F1 teams and conversations with Toto are positive, but not too sure if it would lead to something. But this was on the table now and a decision needed to be taken.”