Williams Admit It’ll Be Difficult To Retain Russell If He’s Offered Mercedes Seat

George Russell has been tipped to join Mercedes as soon as next year, with both Sir Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas only on one-year deals.

George Russell Williams F1 in 2021, Bahrain test - Formula1news.co.uk

George Russell is in an excellent position to join Mercedes in the near future, with him impressing at Williams and outperforming Valtteri Bottas in equal machinery when he filled in for Sir Lewis Hamilton at Bahrain last season. 

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Russell is expected to join the Silver Arrows as early as 2022, with him most likely to replace Bottas at the team, though there’s a chance Hamilton’s seat may also become vacant if he decides to retire at the end of this year.

Commenting on the prospect of them losing their star driver, Williams CEO Jost Capito admitted this week that it will be difficult for them to retain Russell if Mercedes decide they want to sign him.

“If a driver gets an offer from Mercedes in the current situation, there are very few alternatives,” Capito said.

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“George Russell is an exceptional talent, there’s no question about that at all. He’s been in Mercedes’ youth development programme for a long time and they recognised that very early on.

“Whether you can keep him or not also depends a lot on what offers he has. And also how we work with him now and how he sees the development of the car for 2022,” he added.

Capito formerly managed seven-time WRC champion Sebastien Ogier, and the German said “there are some parallels” between him and Russell.

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“He’s very demanding, which is absolutely important for someone who wants to become a World Champion in motorsport. 

“You can really never be satisfied with the car, [you] always have to challenge the team.

“He integrates himself into the team, he’s with the team a lot, he goes to the gym at Williams, prepares himself, is part of the team. And that’s very important for a driver if he wants to move forward,” Capito concluded.

Earlier this month, Russell said he believes he will race for the Mercedes F1 Team at some point if he continues on the “same path and progress”, but he stressed that they haven’t made any promises about giving him a seat.

“Toto has given me his word, and has always given me the opportunity when they believe I deserve it,” Russell said during a press conference attended by Formula1News.co.uk on 5 March.

“They have told me I’m a part of their future, whenever that may be, when they think the time is right.

“I think many people think next year is the natural path, but equally things change very, very quickly in motorsport so I’m not even thinking about it to be honest.

“If I perform on track and I deliver, continue on the same path and progress, I guess the opportunity will come, but I’m not even thinking about it. 

“And no promises have been made [by Mercedes] at all,” the young Brit added.

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