Claire Williams says her team’s current driver George Russell is in the same league as huge names of their past like Nigel Mansell, Damon Hill and Nico Rosberg.
The Briton is in his second season with the Grove outfit, helping to drag them off the bottom for the Formula 1 pecking order after two disappointing seasons.
And progress has been solid in 2020 with Russell at the forefront having come close to making it into Q3 at the Styrian and Hungarian GPs.
It’s no surprise then that some are quietly tipping the Mercedes junior for a bright future in Formula 1, but Claire Williams sure isn’t going about it quietly.
Instead she has compared Russell to three great names of Williams’s past.
One of them being Nico Rosberg who debuted for the team in 2006 before going on to become World Champion in 2016.
And arguably even higher standards were set by Mansell and Hill, both former World Champions in Williams machinery.
Asked on the F1 Nation podcast whether or not Russell could be compared to such names of Williams’ illustrious past, Claire Williams replied: “Yes, 100 percent, and I would move heaven and earth to make George a world champion at Williams.
“George is his own person, but the talent is absolutely there. Combined with the commitment, dedication and singular focus he has, I can’t speak highly enough of him. We’re just very lucky he’s in the team with us.”
Russell it seemed for a time could have found an opening for himself at Mercedes for 2021, but the team chose to stick with Valtteri Bottas.
And Claire Williams did fear such a scenario playing out. After all, Bottas made that move himself in 2017.
“I was nervous because he is so good. I didn’t want to lose him, but equally I’m not one of those people who will stand in someone’s way when they have got a great opportunity,” she explained.
“I think I proved that with Valtteri Bottas when he went to Mercedes a number of years ago… but that hasn’t happened and I’m pleased that George is staying with us. We have him for another year and he’s a joy to have around the place.”
3 great Saturdays. 3 tough Sundays.
Bring on the next 3, starting at home 🇬🇧💪 pic.twitter.com/sTgPGxl5mQ
— George Russell (@GeorgeRussell63) July 19, 2020
In his first season with Williams Russell completed a 21-0 whitewash in qualifying over former team-mate Robert Kubica, although the former race winner did score the team’s only point of the season in Germany.
But Claire Williams said Russell learned a lot from the team’s struggles in 2019.
“The way he talks to the engineers and the rest of the team, he’s learnt that a driver can have a real involvement in leading a team, particularly, when things aren’t going well,” she said.
“Having been in a team that isn’t having the best time will make him stronger. He hasn’t had it easy and it will put him in better place in the future, it will make him a better driver.”