George Russell, Williams FW43B shakedown, Silverstone, 2021

Russell expects to make “a very interesting decision” on his future this year

2021 F1 season

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George Russell admits he could have “a very interesting decision” to make this year even if he doesn’t get the chance to replace Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes.

The Williams driver substituted for the seven-times world champion at last year’s Sakhir Grand Prix. Hamilton has signed a one-year extension on his contract to drive for Mercedes, prompting speculation he could call time on his career at the end of the year.

However Russell said he isn’t thinking about the possibility Mercedes CEO Toto Wolff could offer him a full-time drive as Hamilton’s replacement.

“Toto’s always given me his word and he’s always given me the opportunity when they believe I deserve it,” said Russell today. “They have told me that I’m a part of their future. Whenever that may be, again, is when they believe the time is right.

“A lot of people think next year is a natural path. But equally things change very, very quickly in motorsport, especially in Formula 1, so I’m not even thinking about it, to be honest.

“I obviously had a taste of life at the front of the grid last year. I’m just focused on the here and now, focusing on Bahrain. If I perform on track and I deliver, continue on the same path and progress that I’ve been on so far, I guess in the future the opportunity will come. But I’m not even thinking about it and no promises have been made at all.”

Asked what he could do if he does not get the chance to replace Hamilton, Russell said he sees a “very bright future” at his current team following its sale to new owners Dorilton last year.

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“First and foremost I’m a Williams driver this year,” he said. “There’s a lot of speculation and thoughts ahead of the 2022 season, where I’ll be. If that were not to happen – what most of you guys are speculating, it’s an interesting position for me.

“But as it currently stands with the whole investment from Dorilton, the changes I’ve already seen taking place at Williams – Williams have finished last in the constructors for the past three seasons, I don’t think that will be the case in 2022. I see a very bright future here. There’s a massive opportunity for every team in F1 for 2022.

“With the investment we’ve got, with the guys who are already here with the likes of Jost [Capito, team CEO], the guys who are coming in, the relationship that’s being built with Mercedes, it’s looking very exciting for the team.

“I guess I’ve got a very interesting decision on my hands towards the middle of this year but I’m not even thinking like that. For now we’re still over a year away yet.”

Russell believes he can put himself in the best possible position for the future by concentrating on his performance rather than the driver market.

“My target is just to perform to the absolute best of my abilities, week in, week out. That’s what I have been doing or trying to do ever since I was eight years old starting in go-karting. What comes from that is out of my hands.

“All I can control is how I perform on-track. I’ve had some fantastic opportunities in the past. Obviously the Bahrain race last year, getting my opportunity in Formula 1 with Williams in the first place, the support of Mercedes, and that’s come from just controlling what I can control and that’s how I perform on-track. So that’s not going to change.”

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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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23 comments on “Russell expects to make “a very interesting decision” on his future this year”

  1. “Williams have finished last in the constructors for the past three seasons, I don’t think that will be the case in 2022.”

    I think that is an interesting point for the season- can Williams outperform a rival team? If they can, Haas would be the obvious target. I would also like to see Russell score his first points in a Williams.

    1. If that happens its probably not Williams performing better but Haas even worse.
      I guess both teams aim a 2022 target and both have a long way to go.

  2. I wonder if he considers it very interesting because it may be something that nobody expects… For some reason I feel like there is a chance he could end up at Red Bull, especially since the rumors about Mercedes and Verstappen keep popping up, and also Perez has been suggested to be only a temporary solution by Red Bull (although if he performs well this year, I doubt he’ll be kicked off from the team).

    1. @hunocsi I think GR would be foolish to leave the Mercedes family, and there is nothing to any rumours of Max going to Mercedes. The only question mark for me about Perez is that he had said that if he had to sit out this year he was fine with that as he had something set up for next year. But I can’t imagine where better that might be, and I can see him being retained at RBR after this season. Unless of course RBR want to go back to a family member after this season, but then Perez has already started to become family there too. So with Perez I agree with you and I already think he will perform well this year.

      1. @robbie I’m less certain about that. Surely Max Verstappen at some point is going to get that Hamilton at McLaren, Alonso at Ferrari feeling that the team is never going to quite make a car good enough for a real WDC challenge. There are two complicators: this season may see Red Bull caught, even overtaken by another team, for those P3 positions – Aston Martin, Ferrari even. That will make Max (and Red Bull) very nervous. But the other is the double whammy of lots of contracts ending this year, with the biggest issue being what Hamilton does, and next year also being a ‘new’ (or newish) formula with huge uncertainty about which teams will come out on top – though the continuation of Mercedes engines dampens some of that uncertainty. Basically I think it’s unpredictable at this moment. More so still until we get some idea of how teams have progressed over winter.

        1. @david-br No that’s fair, and for sure Max might get to that same LH/Mac, FA/Ferrari point. Well, he certainly will if he loses faith in their ability to provide him the necessary equipment.

          I’m just absolutely convinced LH isn’t going anywhere soon, as I think he will be stoked to try out the new gen cars. And that Max will be too. But of course I mean I think he is being absolutely truthful that Merc is not even a thought to him right now, as he has to proceed assuming there is nothing available for him at Merc, and has to put his faith, and has good reason to, that RBR will progress well. The engine freeze, their Powertrain Unit. Newey. The team in general with their great strategies and best pit stop crew. All indications of very strong promise and potential there.

          I don’t share your opinion that RBR are at risk of being surpassed by, as you suggest, AM or Ferrari, as I think that if anything they (RBR) will have taken a step closer to Mercedes and will continue to leave the rest in their dust along with Mercedes. And Max in his RBR is better than everyone but LH in his Mercedes.

          I project for this season, and of course I’m speculating, another Merc/RBR grouping out front with the rest duking it out for the ‘scraps,’ but Max in a better position to displace VB more often. And I project LH and Max both stoked to see what 2022 brings with their respective teams, after which they and we will all know so much more about the exciting new chapter.

      2. @robbie Verstappen will go to which ever team he feels gives him the best opportunity to win a WDC, as any driver with ambition would.
        Honda has rolled the dice on their engine this year bringing forward the designs by 12 months. If it works out they will be a thorn in Mercedes side. If not they will be playing catch up.
        Meanwhile back at the ranch Racing Point/Aston Martin and McLaren have the new and improved Merc PU. And I’ll just throw this out there, I reckon Ferrari have spent a mountain of money to fix what ever they needed to fix are are going for it.

        1. @johnrkh Yeah that’s well said. Going to be so exciting to see how this plays out.

  3. @hunocsi
    Hamilton > Aston Martin, Verstappen > Mercedes, Russell > Red Bull
    (or Hamilton stays put and Mercedes go full out Hamilton v. Verstappen)
    I’m guessing it’s not going to be that exciting…

    1. You think? Hamilton and Verstappen are both number 1’s, and neither of them are going to like being in second place, ever. Hamilton has always had the best, and verstappen, simply put, is a child prodigy.

      LH won’t back down to a lesser team than Mercedes- he’s too proud for that.

      MV, one thing that can be said is that he has been loyal to the team, and irrespective of how rash he can come across as at times, hasn’t strayed from that. Remember he spoke publicly in 2020 something along the lines of how could anyone be unmotivated when driving the second best car in f1?

      George appears to also be loyal from his optimism in recent articles.

      But who knows what this season will bring… let’s hope the championship won’t be decided by the second race weekend in…

      What would be nice to see is red bull having a genuine shot at the championship, and Williams with a bit more of a fighting chance, Ferrari too. But I fear Mercedes will still be miles ahead… after all, last race of the season Mercedes were hypothetically running on a flat battery and their star driver was in a less than stellar state of physical health….

      Well, we can only wait to see what testing, and consequently the first race weekend brings…. :)

  4. George Russell to replace Ocon at Alpine. I think that would be the most sensible move for all parties if Mercedes overlooks him once more. Unless Alpine are basically required to have at least one French driver in the team.

    1. @mashiat I regard Gasly as a more likely candidate to replace Ocon (should he leave the RB stable and Ocon underperform), or some Renault academy driver in F2.

  5. Who said he’d replace Hamilton specifically? He could equally replace Bottas.

    1. Agreed. I’m not sure where this obsession with replacing Hamilton came from, except from fans who just don’t like to see Hamilton winning.

      Far more likely that he would replace Bottas.

  6. LOL, not a mention of Bottas though? I mean, I know GR has to be diplomatic, and bide his time and what not, and not sound arrogant, but for me this is a no-brainer.

    Imho, LH is going to be there for 3 more years including this one, GR has already done enough to deserve a Merc seat, and it will be the one that VB is wasting, and this gives them a chance for LH to teach GR the ropes. I can’t see it any other way, other than I suppose if somehow TW doesn’t think GR is ready yet and then we’ll have to suffer one more season after this one of VB lagging, and imho not even hanging onto 2nd in the WDC this year (and next if it somehow strangely happens).

    1. @robbie Yes, with Bottas already stating he’ll be more selfish and demanding this season, his usefulness as wingman is probably up, so a good time to think continuity to get Russell in to learn the ropes from Hamilton like you say. And even if Hamilton would object, I bet after his contract stunt, Wolff’s ‘undying loyalty’ has waned somewhat and the future realities more pressing now that he probably has to discuss future direction with equal partner Ineos.

      1. @balue Yeah fair comment although I don’t sense any waning of anything between TW and LH, nor do I think LH would object to anybody on the team, other than Max, but I think he is quite happy at RBR for the time being, and wants to and should stay where he is to see what they bring for 2022.

  7. He doesn’t want to languish in the back for a fourth year. If merc doesn’t want to give him a seat he will go somewhere else.

  8. RocketTankski
    6th March 2021, 10:57

    I wonder if Toto whispered the same sweet promises to Wehrlein and Ocon..

  9. Slip of the tongue there specifically saying whether or not he’d replace Hamilton rather than simply getting a drive at Mercedes (Bottas more likely to go since he’s been on rolling one year contracts for a while).

    I guess it confirms what we’ve suspected and that’s Hamilton won’t race alongside Russell.

    1. Dean F I fail to see how you have come to the conclusion you have in your last sentence. I’m certainly not part of your ‘we’ve’ as I’ll be quite surprised if they don’t replace VB with GR alongside LH next year.

      1. We know that Hamilton was angling for veto right over the second driver in his latest contract.

        Bottas is clearly at Merc to placate Hamilton.

        No team trying their hardest for a constructors championship would tolerate Bottas’s performances in the most dominant car ever.

        Even the substitute driver came in and easily accounted for Bottas despite no preparation, car not set up optimally, didn’t know the limits of the car, couldn’t fit in it.

  10. “Toto’s always given me his word and he’s always given me the opportunity when they believe I deserve it,” said Russell today. “They have told me that I’m a part of their future. Whenever that may be, again, is when they believe the time is right.

    Oh, my sweet summer child.

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