George Russell, Williams, Nurburgring, 2020

Williams not confirming driver plans for 2021 amid Russell rumours

2021 F1 season

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Williams acting team principal Simon Roberts has refused to confirm George Russell and Nicholas Latifi will continue to drive for them in 2021.

The team announced in July that Russell and Latifi would remain with them for the 2021 F1 season. However the team has since been taken over by Dorilton Capital, and the availability of Sergio Perez following his departure from Racing Point has prompted speculation Williams could move to sign him in place of Russell.

Roberts did not confirm the team will retain its current driver line-up when asked by RaceFans in today’s FIA press conference.

“I’m just not going to talk about it,” he said. “Dorilton bought the team, nothing changed with regard to the drivers.

“There’s just so much speculation, rumours, it’s crazy. It’s silly season, after all. We’re not saying any more than that.”

Russell out? Schumacher to Haas? What’s behind the 2021 silly season rumours
Roberts was asked more than once about the team’s plans for its 2021 driver line-up. “Nothing’s changed,” he said. “There’s lots of speculation. There’s lots of good drivers around that are looking for seats. Dorilton bought the team and nothing changed. I can’t say anything more than that.”

“I’m not going to say anything about either of our drivers,” Roberts added. “They’re both doing a great job. There’s so much speculation around, I don’t want to inadvertently fuel it. Someone will take some nuance in whatever we say. So we’re happy, let’s watch the rest of the market.”

Asked whether the team could end the speculation over its driver line-up by ruling out a move for Perez, Roberts said: “Possibly, but we just don’t want to say anything one way or another. We’re here focusing on our race weekend. We haven’t got any news.

“We’ve got plenty on this morning,” he added. “We’re running lots of parts in first practice. “We’ve got to get through all that and get both our drivers in the best possible place for Saturday or Sunday.”

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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...
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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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39 comments on “Williams not confirming driver plans for 2021 amid Russell rumours”

  1. Perez to Williams, Russell to Mercedes, Bottas to Red Bull and Albon to Alpha Tauri with Gasly?

    1. @denny A nice dream, but not going to happen.

    2. Not sure why RBR should take Bottas if he were to become available.
      And Marko as much as committed to a seat for Tsunoda if he gets his superlicense.

      It would be good though to have a gigantic ‘musical chairs’ to check how other drivers compare to Hamilton and Verstappen within their respective teams.

      1. Last Markos comment was that Max needs teammate that will push him to the limit and Albon is not doing that.

        If Williams is checking Perez, where will Russell go? So I thought Russell is talented as a Bottas, less experiance but he can be fast as Bottas.

        Albon need maturity as Gasly, so I would put him with 2 more years at Alpha Tauri and get Bottas, who is in better shape then Perez and Hulk and has more experiance to fight for points and podiums.

        1. @denny Marko did not say Max needs a teammate to push him to the limit, he said he needs a strong teammate to help them find the car’s limit. Of course it would help them in the Constructors, and help them strategically if they are able to fight for titles as well. But otherwise, no, Max can find his limit just fine, and does so every time he is in the car.

          And isn’t Bottas confirmed for next year? I mean of course contracts can be bought out, but haven’t they only just relatively recently re-signed VB? ie. nobody will be buying him out.

          1. Somebody will be paying off Russell if he has to leave Williams. So may be he can use that money to pay off Bottas.

            And Albon isn’t going back to Alpha Tauri as Tsunoda will likely be going there next to Gasly.

        2. Russel could go to Red Bull for 2021 just let see what happens.

      2. Tsunoda and Mazepin needs at be at least 4th at the end of F2 championship to get superlicence for F1.

        So Haas and Alpha Tauri will probably wait till end of the season.

        1. Mazepin only needs to be 7th

  2. Yeah, my first thought after reading yesterday that “Russell dismisses transfer rumors” was that it’s not up to him to dismiss them.

  3. Well, nothing to confirm in the first place since both drivers are under contract beyond the end of this season or year.

    1. Well, not been able to confirm that both driver with a contract for next year will indeed be there next year, if basically a confirmation that it is opened. There are at least discussions and options are on the table. It does not smell too good for Russel, I’m afraid.

    2. I guess you haven’t followed F1 for very long, because driver contracts can and are terminated early, it’s just a matter of the financial penalty the team pays, that’s all.

  4. If William’s were to get rid of Russell would they have to pay up his contract?

    1. I suppose it all depends on how much Mercedes has “given” Williams to employ Russel. But if the answer is “not much, we’ve just loan them our young driver”, then it’s probably a cheap contract to pay up (all relatives of course, but cheap compared to what Perez brings)

    2. Yup, I’d say so and lose out on any sweet discounts they might have with Mercedes on discounts for engines.

      Russell to Red Bull I’d say…

  5. Thought George was tempting fate yesterday.
    Hello? Contracts? Hmmm?
    Dorilton are a Financial outfit.
    As such their drivers will 100% be with their own substantial financial backing.

    1. They can, they just have to pay the contract out as well as any other cancelation penalties, if any.

  6. Hiland (@flyingferrarim)
    23rd October 2020, 14:24

    They say they don’t want to say anything to fuel the flame/speculation. Saying nothing fuels it more, IMHO. If Perez does go to Williams and takes over Russell’s seat. I think Haas should take Russell.

    1. @flyingferrarim Indeed. Everyone should always just directly dismiss a rumor or its validity when given an opportunity even if it would later prove to be true.

  7. If Russell was to end up without a seat next year, there’s nothing more he could have done with the cars he was given, a rich family would’ve help him go quicker of course.

    1. @bernasaurus
      In qualifying he’s obviously been great, but in races he has quite often ended up behind Latifi or in accidents. Not all have been his fault and it should be expected for a new driver to make some mistakes of course, but my point is technically he could have done more, and probably should have scored points by now.

  8. RBR could do with a known quantity in the team to judge their car once and for all rather than throwing young up and coming drivers on the scrapheap just because the cars a bit average and MV is a bit awesome!
    If Williams ditch Russell, do Mercedes sacrifice Bottas to bring their new boy George in for a season with Lewis before the rule changes AND a possible Lewis departure at end 2021
    RBR could do a lot worse than Bottas – we know he can qualify well, is accepting of No2 status and honestly doesnt have sharp enough elbows to keep max behind him anyway.

    1. Could be but not for 2021 i think 2022 is more then a possiblility that it happens. Mercedes just gave Bottas a year extention so they will never go back on their word.

  9. Stephen Higgins
    23rd October 2020, 15:43

    This sounds like Russell is gone to me, Roberts could have nipped the chatter in the bud but did not do so. Russell’s future looks much more uncertain now and he is going to have to fight for a seat in the next few races. He will need points scoring finishes in order to convince a team like AT or Renault that he is worth a shot.

    1. Roberts could have nipped the chatter in the bud but did not do so

      Roberts is not the one to do that. He is at best an interim team manager and Dorilton will make decisions when it suits them.
      Being a money maker by nature, Dorilton will probably go for the available money or other financial advantages a driver brings. (engine deal?)

  10. Apropos nothing: future archaeologists of the internet are going to refer to this period as the ‘mask layer’ aren’t they?

    I can’t believe Mercedes could let Russell’s talent go to waste. Bad enough driving around at the back of the grid. Losing a seat entirely would be a severe dent to a career he could already be developing alongside Hamilton.

    1. Hiland (@flyingferrarim)
      23rd October 2020, 17:09

      If Perez is the driver that does take Russell’s current seat. That does open him up to the Haas seat. If he does find a seat (I hope he does), it will be an automatic upgrade, lol! But I agree, it would be a shame to see him miss a season!

      And who knows…. maybe Hamilton does retire and Russell jumps over the Merc? Doubt it, but possible!

      1. @flyingferrarim Hamilton does seem to be stalling, possibly due to the uncertainty surrounding Wolff and even Mercedes continuing. Presuming he does win a 7th title this year, maybe he decides equalling Schumacher is enough? But who knows, maybe Mercedes then plunge for a Verstappen bid and buy out??

        1. Hiland (@flyingferrarim)
          23rd October 2020, 19:12

          I think the 7th is in the bag unless a lot of craziness happens (though, it is 2020 so I guess anything could happen)!

          Would Mercedes really want to dig in the pockets to buy out Max from RB? Especially with the budget restriction not far down the pike! Mercedes as a whole have been very wish-washy with regards to F1 commitment. Selling larger shares to Ineos and the carefulness of words when answering their future commitment to F1. With that said, would Max want to take that jump especially with Hamilton stalling as he has. I just fear there is more to this Merc thing than what is being led on. Its a hunch with no evidence to back that, but something seems fishy.

          1. @flyingferrarim I was thinking more along the lines of Max leaping at the chance of going there next year and grabbing one title. It’s almost guaranteed to go to a Mercedes driver. Likewise I think if Hamilton left, Mercedes’ one main threat next year would be Verstappen himself at Red Bull. Would Bottas be enough to beat him and RBR? Or Russell? Maybe Mercedes would take the risk. I agree the complication would be Verstappen himself being unsure of Mercedes’ future in F1.

          2. Hiland (@flyingferrarim)
            23rd October 2020, 19:46

            I see what your saying! I do expect Hamilton to stay on for one more season at Merc and I hope Russell finds a seat if he does gets dumped by the new management at Williams.

          3. As i remember the driver salary are out of the budget restrictions.
            So Merc still has the best cards when they wait. Even the possibility of buying out VER will put pressure on the negotiations between HAM and Merc.
            Ham will beat all the records and only in a Merc that will happen. WDC number 8 will cost him some money in the negotiations.

          4. Hiland (@flyingferrarim)
            23rd October 2020, 19:57

            I did a quick search… I stand corrected. You are correct in that the driver salaries are not part of the “cap”. And good point on negotiation pressure.

    2. Absolutely agree with you. I think Russell is great and definitely deserves a chance in a good car. If I was Red bull I would try to get Russell instead of Perez. He surely wouldn’t do worse than him or Albon Gasly Tsunoda et al.
      And they would annoy Mercedes…

  11. I’m calling it now, it will be Elon Musk and Baron Trump in the Williams in 2021.

    1. Hiland (@flyingferrarim)
      23rd October 2020, 19:18

      That prediction is over the moon!

    2. At least we know after every race that it was a rigged race..

    3. The greatest line up the world has ever seen.

Comments are closed.