Mercedes F1's Russell wants GP3 title sealed a round early at Jerez
|By Alex Kalinauckas||Wednesday, September 6th 2017, 12:25 GMT|
Mercedes Formula 1 junior driver George Russell is aiming to seal the 2017 GP3 drivers' title with a round to spare next time out at Jerez.
The ART Grand Prix driver is now 43 points ahead of team-mate Jack Aitken in the standings after taking his fourth win of the season at Monza last weekend.
It was the only GP3 race that took place in Italy as wet weather on Saturday delayed F1 qualifying, causing the third-tier category's longer race to be postponed and its shorter second race to be cancelled.
Four more races are currently scheduled before the end of the season - two at the standalone F2/GP3 event at Jerez next month, and two in Abu Dhabi in November.
"Overall, even though it was a very eventful or uneventful weekend - I'm not too sure which is the correct word to use - it's been one race [win], 25 points out of possible 31 [with four for pole and two for fastest lap also available], so I'm happy with that," Russell told Autosport.
"I extended the championship lead and I'm going to Jerez quite happy and just [focused on] consolidating more points and hopefully sealing the championship that weekend."
While the 19-year-old is determined to take his first championship title since winning BRDC Formula 4 in 2014 - the same year he won the McLaren Autosport BRDC Award - at the earliest opportunity he can, he says he will not be taking any unnecessary risks to do so.
"If you can get it out of the way in Jerez it's just one less thing to worry about when we arrive in Abu Dhabi," he said.
"But I've got a 43-point advantage - [so] I can afford to score 10 points less than Jack in each and every race of the season now.
"[But] I'm not going to do anything crazy in Jerez.
"If I manage to wrap it up then fantastic, if not then we go to Abu Dhabi and fight again."
Teams' title "fantastic" for ART
Russell beat Aitken and Anthoine Hubert to the race win in Monza, which was their ART team's fourth 1-2-3 finish of the season.
Despite losing polesitter Nirei Fukuzumi to a sensor problem before the start, the result was enough to secure a seventh GP3 teams' title in eight seasons for the French squad.
"It feels great to be part of this team," said Russell. "They've done an unbelievable job all season.
"I think there's no doubt we have the quickest car underneath us but the amount of detail the guys go into to help us as drivers and all four of us working hard to be as quick as possible, pushing one another - all of these [things] add up and contribute to why we are so quick.
"It's great to be a part of this team and it's fantastic for them to dominate another season in the championship."