Bottas renewal closes Mercedes door to Russell

Date published: July 16 2020

George Russell PA

George Russell has revealed his chances of driving for Mercedes next year have disappeared with news that Valtteri Bottas is set to extend his contract with the World Champions.

Instead, the Englishman has confirmed he will be spending a third year at Williams, with whom he is ‘on loan’ in football parlance from his role as a Mercedes junior driver.

The 22-year-old from Norfolk endured a torrid first season with Williams due to the team’s lack of competitiveness, but there has been much more promise in his 2020 outings so far.

After being in contention to score his first ever F1 points in the season-opening Austrian Grand Prix before having to retire from the race, Russell reached Q2 for the Styrian Grand Prix a week later and only just missed out on Q3 as he showed his ability in wet conditions.

On the eve of the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend, it emerged that Williams will retain their current driver line-up of Nicholas Latifi and Russell for next year – with the Mercedes door closed on the latter by the seemingly imminent announcement that Bottas will remain in situ.

“I will be staying with Williams for 2021,” said Russell at the Hungaroring press conference, as quoted by Crash.net.

“I signed a three-year deal with Williams and I’ll be staying there for 2021 to build off last year and what this year hopefully turns out to be.”

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Asked if he was disappointed to have been overlooked by Mercedes, Russell replied: “No, I’m not disappointed in Mercedes at all, there was nothing more they could do.

“Claire [Williams] was very firm with her decision that she wasn’t ready to let me go and ultimately as I have a contract with Williams, I have to respect that decision.

“I’m here and I will be giving everything I have this year and next year and let’s see what the future holds after that.”
Latifi, meanwhile, is also on a three-year contract with Williams until the end of 2022.

In terms of prospects for the Hungarian Grand Prix, Russell told the Williams official website: “I think the circuit characteristics will suit our car better than Austria did. We have a bit of work to do off the back of the race in Austria as our race pace wasn’t as strong as our qualifying pace so we need to understand why.

“Nevertheless, Hungary is a great track, it’s one of my favourites and it will be fun to drive around that circuit again.”

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