George Russell, Williams, Sochi Autodrom, 2020

Russell: Wolff has told me I’ll be on the grid next year

2021 F1 season

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Mercedes junior driver George Russell is confident he will remain on the grid for the 2021 F1 season despite doubts over his future at Williams.

Russell said Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has told him he will be on the grid next year.

“He’s said listen, I’ve got your back, and he said you’ll be on the grid next year, so don’t worry,” said Russell. “Everything will be fine and I’d say 100% clarified from the team’s perspective probably no later than the end of next week.”

Sergio Perez, who will lose his seat at Racing Point to Sebastian Vettel at the end of the year, has been tipped to take Russell’s place at Williams. Although the team confirmed on social media in July that Russell will remain with them next year, they have since been taken over by new owners Dorilton Capital.

The new owners met with Russell over the weekend and discussed his future with the team, he said.

“They’ve been here, I spoke with them, they said don’t worry, everything’s going to be fine. We had a small chat about it and moved on to talk about the rest of this year moving into next year and how we’re going to push the team further forward, which is enough for me.”

Russell believes the rumours over his future have come from Perez’s backers, who are trying to find him a seat at Red Bull alongside Max Verstappen next year.

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“I think all of this speculation has probably been fed by the Perez camp who are trying to apply pressure on other teams further down the grid, potentially a Red Bull seat,” said Russell. “So that’s my view on it. Like I say I’ve got a contract, I’ve got nothing to worry about and I’m just here, focusing on my job.”

Wolff said Russell’s performances have shown he deserves a place in F1, and that if he were to lose his seat at Williams it would be for financial reasons.

“George has proven that he deserves to be in Formula 1,” said Wolff. “[In Portugal] again he was running in the solid midfield.

“I don’t think the decision comes down to his driving skills. It’s more probably an overall political [and] commercial decision and it’s up to the owners of Williams to decide where they want to head with the team.

“So I think we have to respect the independence of Williams and their decision-making process. And I think he’s in a good position.”

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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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34 comments on “Russell: Wolff has told me I’ll be on the grid next year”

  1. On the grid doing interviews for SkyF1?

    1. Reserve driver in case Bottas or Lewis catch Covid??

    2. On the Formula E grid. Doing interviews for Sky.

    3. I have an opinion
      28th October 2020, 6:50

      Grid boys will be making a comeback after Monaco 2015. George’s job will be to protect Valtteri from the sun and to give Toto something nice to look at.

  2. Sack Bottas part way through next season and put in Russell is the way I see it.

    1. For what reason. Finishing second in the WDC and helping Mercedes win the WCC? Although to be fair Hamilton alone is beating RB to the WCC 256-226.

      1. He’s a solid driver. Very capable of driving a clear dominant car to P2, helped by technical issues for Verstappen, of course, but still a solid number two.

        That said, it’s public record through comments made by Toto and Russell that the only reason he’s got another extension over Russell is due to Claire Williams invoking that third year clause in his contract and making him unavailable to Merc. If that changes, Merc needs to give him that seat. He’s one of the best drivers on the grid, alongside Max and Charles the absolute top future talent, and you’d be crazy to choose a Bottas over a Russell if he’s available.

        Having Russell sit out a year will negatively impact his career. You don’t learn from sim driving, all you get is rusty and potentially lose your edge. No amount of training and simulators is going to replace the experience and feel of actually racing Formula 1 cars.

  3. …you’ll be on the grid next year (to replace Valtteri) so dont worry.

    Ftfy.

    1. Bottas has a contract for next though. Perhaps a replacement for Hamilton? haha

      1. @chrisr1718

        Perez had a 5 year contract with RP too.
        George has a contract for next year too.

        Should I keep going or you get the point?

        1. @lums Not a five-year. For three years until 2022, but yes, still lost out to a driver who isn’t necessarily going to be an upgrade from him.

        2. @lums it was a joke! Hence the “haha” at the end.

          1. Lol figured after pressing enter.
            @chrisr1718

  4. Didn’t Toto say the same to Ocon in 2018?

      1. And we could see Ocon in the pits. So he still was in F1.

        People are making remarks about the red bull youth program. But Mercedes is not doing much better.
        Wehrlein, ocon, Russell who’s next..

  5. “I don’t think the decision comes down to his driving skills. It’s more probably an overall political [and] commercial decision and it’s up to the owners of Williams to decide where they want to head with the team.

    So it is all about the money?

  6. I think Russell will definitely be in a Merc for 2022 next to Hamilton, if Williams drops him for 21 he’ll be treated much the same as Ocon was. Bottas will be shunted to a customer team just like Räikkönen was.

  7. Seems disrespectful to his team and management by keep bring up Toto wolf and how he is got his back when Russell do not perform on any race.

  8. didn’t he say exactly the same about Ocon at the end of 2018?

  9. This is great news, but not sure why he would say this publicly. Not sure I’d be that impressed if I was Toto, best to keep some things in house but maybe it’s so he’s true to his word? Bit odd.

    1. Yeah this seems like the sort of conversation that you should be keeping quiet about

  10. If he losses his seat RB could take him instead of Perez!

    1. RB won’t take a Mercedes junior onto the team. Maybe, very maybe, if Mercedes lets him go, but even that I highly doubt. RB wants a second driver that can stay near MV and with doing so can steal point from the opposition. Not two drivers that steal point from each other.

      Basically like a Hamilton Bottas situation. Imagine Rosberg still in the Mercedes in 2017, 2018 and 2019 competing Hamilton. The biggest winner of that situation would have been Vettel. See also 2007.

  11. Mercedes won 12 races to Ferrari’s 5 in 2017 no chance of Vettel winning. It was only because of Hamilton and Mercedes underperforming and making errors early on that allowed Vettel to even be in the lead.

    1. LOL 😆😆😆😆

      David ‘never ever knowingly praise Hamilton’ Bondo is back!!!

    2. Bondo pollutes again!

    3. I don’t agree with people criticizing you just cause you’re usually against hamilton, but I don’t see anything about hamilton in the article!

      And for sure the 2017 mercedes was superior to the ferrari, but wouldn’t call it a dominant car, I’d go as far as saying that in 2017 vettel and hamilton were pretty even, hamilton had a few slow weekends and vettel had a few mistakes, the balance switched in 2018.

  12. If Wolff is a shareholder in Williams he will know what the score is, and besides, why swap Russell when he can benchmark the car better than almost anybody else available. Russell and Perez should really be a good combo. Hoping for that.

  13. I think it’s become a sad outcome for formula 1 when a position in a team
    Does NOT come down to his driving skill,
    But to the sponsorship money he /she will bring with them.
    I think the share out of profits for the teams need a further flattening to enable fairness in this respect.

  14. Who picks the safety car drivers?

  15. You know who else said he’s got a contract, he’s talked to the team, and everything is going to be fine?

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