George Russell, Jost Capito, Williams, Red Bull Ring, 2021

Williams preparing backup plan in case Mercedes sign Russell

2021 Styrian Grand Prix

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Williams is making contingency plans to hire a replacement for George Russell if Mercedes offer their junior driver a place at the world championship winning outfit.

Russell almost won on his one-off debut for Mercedes in last year’s Sakhir Grand Prix. Williams CEO Jost Capito says the appeal to Russell of driving for the world champions was undeniable.

“Of course, if he would get the chance to get in the Mercedes, he would be stupid not doing it. But if he doesn’t get the chance to get into the Mercedes I think he would be quite happy to stay at Williams. And this is all that we can work for and hope for.”

Although Williams would like to keep Russell, who has achieved their best starting position since 2018 for today’s race, Capito said they are making plans to identify a replacement if needed.

“Whenever a driver’s contract ends, wherever it is, they might move on, or might stay. That’s a normal discussion.

“Of course, we have to have a back-up plan because we also see the the likeliness that Mercedes will give him an offer. But at the moment, I don’t see that we have any need to act on anything before Mercedes has decided what they’re going to do.”

Russell said on Thursday he has not yet begun any talks over his future. “At the moment I’m just focussed on the driving, to be honest,” he said. “No discussions have started at all, just taking it race by race.

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“When the right time comes we’ll start discussing with myself and my managers, with whatever other party that may be. Obviously Mercedes manage me so as I said last week I’m just excited race by race, looking forward to the future, obviously.

“But I’m confident I will remain in Formula 1 next year, which gives me no real concerns and just allows me to go out there and just try and do my best week in and week out, which is a really nice feeling to not have any concerns in that regard.”

Since making his F1 debut with Williams in 2019, in a dire season for the team, Russell has seen them steadily progress. He is optimistic about their future under Dorilton, who took over the team last year and installed Capito in charge.

“I’m really confident,” he said. “Everything I’ve seen so far since the arrival of the new owners has been fantastic, to be honest.

“They’re absolutely not messing around and they are doing things properly. They’re not rushing into things, which I think is so important, and making the right steps at the right times with a really strong sort of mid-to-long term objective.

“They want to win. It might sound silly at the moment but we’ve got a big regulation change coming next year, they’ve got the finances in place to really push the team forward where it needs to be improved. And there’s no reason why in the future Williams can’t be back up there fighting in front of the grid.”

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2021 Styrian Grand Prix

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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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15 comments on “Williams preparing backup plan in case Mercedes sign Russell”

  1. It would be great if they can sign Hamilton.

    1. How will the manage to snatch him from Haas?

      1. Big promises for the future!

  2. after the retirement of the greats like Lewis, Vettel, Alonso and Raikonen, the next F1 era looks amazing from a drivers pov: Max in the RBR, Leclerc in the Ferrari, Russel at Mercedes and Norris at McLaren. Hard to say who’s gonna be the dominant driver for the future (ofcourse, depends very much on the car)

  3. Barry Bens (@barryfromdownunder)
    27th June 2021, 9:04

    Not exactly sure how long the contract of Dani Ricc as McLaren is, but if Mercedes sticks with Bottas and Hamilton for next year, wouldn’t the Woking-outfit be a good step up for Russell? Also driving with Mercedes-engines and they’d get the top pairing of Norris-Russell: probably the best pairing of the entire field right now.

    1. @barryfromdownunder He’s on a three-year deal.

  4. This could be bad for Bottas if they line up another driver and Bottas can’t even get a drive at Williams.

  5. I don’t know why Bottas wouldn’t be a matter of course for Williams. Who better.

    I bet he would shine there too without the humiliating frustration of being designated wingman.

  6. Honestly if I was a driver I would be keen on Williams, they’re not going backwards. Jost has great pedigree as an actual engineer and as leading a WRC winning team. I’d much rather drive for him than Claire Williams that’s for sure. I’d be surprised if they’re not at least a solid midfield entry in the coming era

    1. I would go further and say that mercedes is on the way down. Next season will be under a budget cap which means mercedes will have had to downsize, they won’t have the same level of backing they have been used to. And there are those development restrictions for successful teams.

      I don’t think signing for mercedes will be the garunteed championship that it has been for the last few years.

      Williams might not be such a bad team to be with.

  7. I know just the right man and that man is Dany Kvyat. :P

    1. Who will still be a part-time RAF pilot until the end of 2022.

  8. Yada yada. Wolff calls the shots. If he does it, he’ll make it a swap and put Bottas back there

  9. Vandoorne, maybe?

    Reply moderated
  10. Maybe just tee up Aitken to step in as a backup

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