Mercedes Formula 1 protégé and ART GP3 driver George Russell has said that he is ‘most likely’ going to graduate into F2 next season after becoming the eighth champion of the third-tier series at Jerez.

Russell finished fifth on track to win his first championship since the BRDC British F4 series in 2014, before being promoted to fourth in the results after a post-race penalty to Niko Kari.

Only four champions of that series have moved into the second-tier of the junior ladder, and all have done so in even-numbered years.

Esteban Gutierrez, Mitch Evans, Alex Lynn and Charles Leclerc all competed in either F2 or GP2 between 2011 and 2017.

Valtteri Bottas (2011), Daniil Kvyat (2013) and Esteban Ocon (2015) all skipped the category before making debuts in F1.

Russell stated that his favoured move would be into the series, but does not know which team he could be placed in, with a limited number of seats available in F1.

“At the moment, there is nothing sorted,” he said.

“Obviously, F1 is my clear goal, but I think next season everything is tight down there unfortunately for me.

“As we all know, this sport is all about performing at the right time.

“I think it’s most likely going to be F2, that’s what I’d like to do.

“I think it makes more sense to be in the limelight of the F1 team, having the guys around me I need.

“And obviously, F2 is a step below F1.

“I’d say it’s most likely, but we’re still in talks with teams at the moment.”

Russell is yet to stay at one team for more than one season in his single-seater career, starting in 2014 with Lanan Racing in BRDC F4 before spells at Koiranen GP in Formula Renault 2.0 ALPS, Tech 1 Racing in FR Eurocup, and Carlin and Hitech GP in the F3 European Championship.