George Russell, Williams, Circuit de Catalunya, 2020

Russell’s future at Williams is not up to Mercedes – Wolff

2020 Portuguese Grand Prix

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Mercedes junior driver George Russell’s future at Williams is for the team to decide, says Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff.

Russell joined Mercedes’ young driver programme in 2017 and made his F1 debut for their customer team last year. Williams announced earlier this year he will remain with them for the 2021 F1 season but the team has been sold to new owner Dorilton Capital since then.

Following speculation Sergio Perez could be hired to replace Russell, the team’s acting principal Simon Roberts declined to confirm whether Russell or team mate Nicholas Latifi will be retained for 2021.

Wolff said Russell is a star of the future, but said “it’s Williams’s decision” whether to keep him within their team.

“We all know about George’s capabilities,” said Wolff. “He is a star of the future who remains unbeaten by his team mates in Formula 1.

“Sometimes he is able to show highlights in a car that is not competitive at the moment. And I think he’s a great team asset.

“But there’s obviously a financial reality that I cannot judge at all and it’s absolutely the judgement of the new owners and Simon to decide what they want to do going forward.”

Wolff confirmed he has been in contact with Williams about Russell’s position in the team. “We’ve touched base about George but at the end, like I said, it’s their call.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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22 comments on “Russell’s future at Williams is not up to Mercedes – Wolff”

  1. Not a great message for Russel, is it.

    1. Yeah, this reads like they told Wolff that Russell is out

  2. He is unbeaten by his teammates in F1? Sorry but Kubica scored a point and he didn’t.. Kubica was better when it really mattered.

    1. Kubica was more lucky once, it gave them a point and they still finished dead last. He is unbeaten in qualifying.

      1. Kubica lucky? George made a mistake in Germany 2019 and Kubica passed him. How’s that being lucky? That was the only point Kubica got for the team in 2019.

        1. Basically Russell cracked under pressure and Kubica got the sole point of the 2019 season. This year Latifi is ahead of Russell in overall standings.

  3. Russell is a contracted Merc driver loaned to Williams to use at their discretion. Williams are not his employer. Most f1 contracts have a break clause. It could be performance related or it might just be if a party wishes to end a contract early they have to pay lots of money to the other party as compensation. I expect Perez got a mega pay off from racing point. My point is contracts give a much needed sense of direction and stability to a team and its drivers. The contracts themselves contain within them flexibility at a price but all parties are aware of this when they sign.

    1. Perez will be paid up the balance of his contract, as the team terminated it. with probably no valid reason.(not often the quicker driver gets the chop)….Russell is a contracted Merc driver, and Merc will probably pay some of his wages and there is probably an engine supply discount. I suspect the contract Merc have with Williams will have a clause that they can recall their driver at any point of the season.
      The new owners may decide that Perez will bring money that offsets any benefits George has, and also they get a driver that they control. Downside they still have a car next season that will be slow, as they will be putting their efforts into 2022 and they are hampered with what they can do with the current car.

  4. Toto is clearly not considering Russell for the main team. I’d like to see Russell get some proper midfield racing opportunities, but clearly, the only way is if Williams get their act together. However, that’s unlikely to happen before 2022.

    1. Ricciadro / Russell combo at McLaren in 2022 ?? if so, what happens to Chuck Norris?

  5. Why do I get the feeling that the new owners of williams are going to try and go racing spending as little as possible?

    1. Because they are a venture capitalist company who will be looking to screw Williams for every available penny before offloading them.

      See Bernie and F1.

      When anything is bought by venture capitalists, you can be pretty certain that it’s done for. Because the share holders need their slice, they will maximise short term gains and minimise investment.

        1. No necessarily. It is in the investors interest for the team to succeed.

          The higher up the order the team is the more cash flow it generates the more valuable it is to sell to new investors.

  6. George Russel should start looking at the possibility of racing in America (Indycar), in case he is dropped by Williams at the end of the year. Racing competitively in an established and (regionally) popular racing series would do his future more good, rather than sitting in the sidelines waiting for an opening in Mercedes F1 to open up (just ask Ocon, whom I’m sure his skillset was somewhat compromised by having to take a year off doing next to nothing).

    If in case George goes to Indycar, he may never get the chance to go back to F1 of course. But at least he’ll have a better opportunity to win/fight for championships (which is what ultimately matters), prolong his racing career, and earn an ample salary depending on how valuable he is/becomes (although it will never be F1 millions).

    Toto Wolff is too focused on maximizing the present; where he’d rather cash in on the opportunity to win championships now, and not worry about setting up Mercedes’ future in parallel. That means so long as Hamilton continues to dominate and Bottas is able to use the strength of the car to elevate him into second best, there’s no need to upset the established order. Effectively, Toto’s approach to securing the continued competitiveness of the driver line-up is to think/worry about it if/when the situation arises.

  7. I think mercedes should give him Hamilton’s seat. The car us good enough for next, great learning curb for the new updates later, stops Hamilton’s games and delay on signing. I think a better outcome for the future.

  8. Im sure the other team owners see Russel’s talent the same way they saw Alonso’s rookie talent in Minardi. If he is not in f1 next year, i a certain he will be a test driver and will be back in f1 at a later date. He needs to get out of the Mercedes contract and find his own sponsors, which he will easily. Red Bull should partner him with Verstappen.

  9. Isn’t Wolff still a shareholder in Williams?

  10. Red Bull should try to sign Russell along with Mercedes Engines and Toto should let the best chassis win in 2022 (I know it will never happen, maybe if you include a escape clause to Verstappen contract in case Hamilton retires?)).
    If I were Dr.Marko my dream lineup for next year would be Verstappen/Hulkenberg 1 year contract in Red Bull and Gasly/Russell in Alpha Tauri. The winner of the AT battle would be promote for 2022 Red Bull.

    1. Agreed, I think Alpha Tauri would be a nice progression especially for someone who can do such a great job on Saturdays. But Red Bull won’t drop Albon out completely.

  11. As a Young driver you are far better of joining Red Bull or Ferrari’s young driver programme than Mercedes.
    The only changes you get at Mercedes is to fill in on the days Lewis can’t be bothered to do testing. So you get to run around once after abu dhabi and in the simulator. Other than that your career is just wasting away, waiting for an opportunity that the most risk averse team in F1 isn’t going to give you.

    But then again the last Merc junior driver to drive for Merc was Schumacher, 15 to 20 years after he finished the programme. So young drivers should already know their chances at a Merc drive as junior are none.

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