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

‘If Russell joins Mercedes I hope he comes back to Williams one day’ – Capito Q&A

2021 Belgian Grand Prix

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RaceFans spoke to Williams CEO and team principal Jost Capito after George Russell’s stunning, front row-capturing performance for the team in qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix.

Amid rumours Russell will imminently be announced as Lewis Hamilton’s new team mate for 2021, Capito discussed the team’s plan for its driver line-up and how it is building for the future following its takeover by Dorilton Capital last year.

RF: It’s been a year since Williams announced they would be purchased by Dorilton. What has happened over this last year?

Capito: “What I found is a really good and motivated team. It was just in the recent years and the years before they had, I would say, challenges on the financial side and then couldn’t do the investment that other teams have done. So they got on the back foot. And that, of course, has an impact on the results.

“Now with the change of ownership, the investment got done. But still, it’s not just money – money doesn’t make you win races. I think a couple of companies have proven that in the past. You need to activate the investments you make to make it work, and especially then you have to make the team work and to get the team back from ‘yeah, we are tenth and we have zero points and that’s where we are’ to get back to ‘no, we want to go back to the top’ and convince them that we can do it.

George Russell, Williams, Red Bull Ring, 2021
Russell signalled Williams’ gains with Q3 at the Red Bull Ring
“I’m really surprised how much you can do without having, let’s say, dramatic or major changes to the car. What you can do with activating the team. And be motivated to be competitive again.”

RF: How do you prioritise whether to put your money into developing the car or building up the team’s infrastructure?

Capito: “That’s where we look at what Formula 1 should be in the future and we prioritise also the investments of what we believe the team needs in the future. It’s not necessarily what do we need to catch up with where the other teams are now, it’s looking beyond with what is needed maybe in 10 years and working on that.

“I think that’s also highly motivating for the team itself that we are looking beyond just what we can do for next year and saying ‘where is Formula 1 moving towards and what do we need to do to be competitive in the next decade?’.”

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RF: Are Williams going to reach the budget cap in the near future?

Capito: “That’s the objective. I think the objective of the FIA and FOM is that everybody can get to the budget cap. And so if they want to have a balanced battlefield, then everybody has to be the same resources. And I think with the budget cap coming even more down, it allows most of the teams to be at the budget cap in the future.”

Capito sees no need to expand grid beyond 10 teams
RF: How do you see the team’s position within the sport?

Capito: “I think Williams is the only real independent team. And I think that is a strength and it’s very unique in Formula 1 right now, and this is a strength to partner with. We don’t have to look into anything else. We can purely focus on our brand. And I think that it’s a big advantage for any big company that wants to enter the sport.”

RF: Should F1 have more than 10 teams?

Capito: “I think 10 teams is fine. You have 20 cars on the grid, they deliver a great show. I think 10 teams is the right thing. You have the space in the paddock and you have the right races for this. I think it’s perfect.”

Formula E champion De Vries could take Russell’s seat
RF: It looks 99% sure that you’re going to lose George for next year. Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said he’s taken the decision already. So how do you feel about losing such a mega talent?

Capito: “First of all, if that really will happen or would happen, it’s not confirmed. And I haven’t got any confirmation. He’s taken a decision, but I don’t know which one. It’s fine with me, I have a good relationship with Toto. And if he’s taken his decision, it’s fine. I’ve taken my decision as well.

“But in this case, we are dependent on what Toto decides. And I hope that he decides to take George because George is at the stage of his career where he deserves to get into a championship-winning car and we are not in the position yet to do that. And I hope that in a couple of years he comes back because he wants to be world champion again and he can get it with us! So, you never know.”

RF: Has Wolff said anything about Nyck de Vries?

Capito: “I don’t really talk to him about drivers because I want to make him very clear, and I think he is very clear, that Williams can take our own decision and we take the decision on drivers. Of course, I look at various drivers and Nyck de Vries is a [Formula E] world champion for sure. It would be stupid not having him in the line-up of potential drivers, so. But he’s not the only one, of course.”

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RF: Would you look outside the Formula 1 paddock for a driver?

Capito: “I wouldn’t exclude anything at this point, or anybody at this point.”

George Russell, Williams, Spa-Francorchamps, 2021
Analysis: How Russell pipped Hamilton to put a Williams on the front row – on a used set tyres
RF: Would you take Valtteri Bottas back?

Capito: “Taking Valtteri back wouldn’t be stupid, as it wouldn’t be stupid to have somebody else. I think in the moment as before it’s decided that George is leaving. I’m not in the position and I don’t want to talk to anybody in detail.”

RF: And Nicholas Latifi, you’d keep him?

Capito: “Nicholas is doing a great job. And there is of course discussions going on, but he’s impressed us this year and he’s getting better and better. And the team likes him, he works well with the team. So I think he’s got a good chance to stay.”

RF: It’s no secret that he brings a budget. You need that budget going forward?

Capito: “No, we don’t. We were very clear that we don’t need pay drivers. We don’t need drivers to pay to drive for us. Of course, there are different drivers, who come with certain sponsorship and association to sponsors. Of course, that doesn’t hurt, but it’s not the priority in decision-making. The priority is to get the right driver to get the team forward.”

Russell went on to take second in curtailed Belgian GP
RF: When will Williams be in a position where you can genuinely find four points then podiums without needing conditions like this?

Capito: “That’s difficult to say. Let’s say next year with the new car, nobody knows what the cars will be [like]. Hopefully we will deliver a positive surprise with the first test and then going into the season.

“But I think the teams who have a really good car this year are in a better position to do a really good car for next year with the new regulation than the team that has one of the slowest car. But we are working hard. I think we changed a lot, with FX coming in and really supporting [him].

“I think we have really good engineers and I’m confident that we can have a car that if it’s not in the midfield right away, that can be developed during the season to be in the midfield. And then we have to go step-by-step.”

2021 Belgian Grand Prix

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28 comments on “‘If Russell joins Mercedes I hope he comes back to Williams one day’ – Capito Q&A”

  1. “find four points”
    I guess Dieter’s accents on tape was a bit unclear to Will ;)

    I think Williams is the only real independent team. And I think that is a strength and it’s very unique in Formula 1 right now, and this is a strength to partner with.

    Nor sure how he defines a real independent team. Sauber is a real independent team as well, they just have a title sponsor (as opposed to Williams).
    Haas is an independent team as the owner has made it clear he would move his name of the car and replace it with a title sponsor in a heartbeat.
    You could even stretch it and claim RBR is independent, although they will probably never ditch their super title sponsor.

    1. Independent in terms of sponsorship barriers.

      Alfa has cannot take on sponsors that will conflict with it’s street cars. Same for Aston Martin, same for McLaren. Haas is machine toolcompany, RedBull is a drinks company so those teamstoo also have some sponsorship limitations. Well this is my understanding of it.

      1. Alfa doesn’t own the racing team. It’s just a sponsor.

  2. But with de vries they will get a acceptable replacement I guess..

  3. I like that it’s assumed everyone knows what or who FX is.

    It looks like Latifi will stay, but rather Bottas back than de Vries IMO. Although Bottas might be promised to Alfa Romeo.

    1. Dave (@davewillisporter)
      31st August 2021, 18:15

      The VW car that set the Pikes Peak and Nurbergring record was FX’s baby. He’s a serious engineer!

  4. Much prefer this Q & A format versus prose style interview

  5. I agree with him on team number. 10 is good overall and provides decent enough racing.

    1. AJ (@asleepatthewheel)
      31st August 2021, 13:14

      @jerejj 10 is a tad less considering the amount of talent coming through the junior ranks. With 2-3 seats going to billionaire’s kids these days (nothing against them), we need 1-2 teams more to offset that. 10 also happens to be the minimum no. of teams required for a season to be sanctioned, so we are right on the limit here. F1 cannot afford a team to collapse under present regulations.

      1. petebaldwin (@)
        31st August 2021, 16:19

        @asleepatthewheel – Trouble is, unless you can attract manufacturers, you’ll have a couple of small team join who’s goal is to find the next billionaire’s kid.

    2. @jerejj and what about opportunities for designers, mechanics, technicians and all of the other individuals working in motorsport, asides from just drivers?

  6. He can always come back for some tea.

  7. If Lewis wants to break the WDC record he’d better do it this year. I can not see him outdrive Russell tbh. Nothing to do with his skills, he is still one of the best but age is a thing here and I have got a feeling George might be a bit better than Charles and Lando, so a serious successor of Lewis’ role within the team.

    1. I think Russell is better on a Saturday more often than not (he did lose against Bottas).
      But his Sunday drives weren’t that spectacular so far (excluding last Sunday) and I’d certainly put my money on LH in a direct fight.

      1. petebaldwin (@)
        31st August 2021, 16:23

        I’d put my money on Lewis winning initially however Russell is definitely going to take a lot more points away from Lewis than Bottas has. It means Lewis will always be racing against another car for wins even if the Mercedes is dominant – if Red Bull have a good car next year he’ll be racing against 2 other cars which he hasn’t really had to do since early part of his F1 career.

        1. AJ (@asleepatthewheel)
          1st September 2021, 3:59

          @petebaldwin with Newey’s previous experience of designing ground effect cars to good measure, I fear we may be staring at half a decade of Verstappen-Red Bull domination.

        2. If all things remained as they are now (i.e the cars) then I suspect that the outcome would be Merc win the WCC and Max wins the WDC, simply because I think George will bag more points than Bottas and some of that will be at the expense of Lewis, meanwhile RB will ensure Checo doesn’t threaten Max.
          But of course The cars won’t remain the same and my money is on RB doing a slightly better job on the aero than merc, and with minimal engine development that is a situation likely to ensure Lewis and George spend more time racing each other than taking on Max…..

          Of course this is all moot if one of the midfield teams pulls a superb design out of the bag…..

          Fun times.

      2. Lose against bottas? Because of a puncture? I’m tired of this argument, I’m talking about performance, not luck!

        1. No puncture on Saturday!

      3. Ah, if you mean that he got outqualified by bottas, barely and he was in his first mercedes quali, which I think is still impressive, while a confirmation bottas is good in quali.

        1. Indeed.
          And as you can read I used it only to support my view that he will not always win.

    2. Lewis will beat Russell, Russell sets his car up for qualifying, not the race that’s why they call him Mr Saturday, next year’s car will have less down force than this car which brings everything back in favour of Lewis.

    3. I think Russell is good on both Saturdays and Sundays but not at Williams. They have only just began to to find a good balance in the car. Previously they were just going for single lap performance on the Saturdays. We have seen Russell in GP2 and he can replicate that in F1.
      The only thing is that while he can easily find a second in the Williams, he will only find less than a tenth in the Mercedes.

      1. Dave (@davewillisporter)
        31st August 2021, 18:19

        Russell is a talent for sure but the only wheel to wheel I’ve seen he’s been overtaken or ended up crashing. Not seen him pull a move that stands out. Look at Lewis now, a few years of lack of wheel to wheel and he is a bit rusty, and that’s coming from a fan since 2006! I’d bet on Lewis having the edge due to his battles with Max. Qualifying will likely be more like Rosberg vs Hamilton, race wise they same dynamic. Closer but not beating Lewis!

        1. How did you not see a move that stands out? His only race in mercedes he overtook bottas and several others and the moves were even without drs.

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