Jost Capito has joked that he sees George Russell winning a World Championship for Mercedes – and then another with Williams.
Given the way the rumour mill has been working, it would now be a surprise if anyone other than Russell was partnering Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes next year.
Official confirmation has yet to be announced, but it is starting to resemble something of an open secret in the Formula 1 paddock that Valtteri Bottas will be replaced.
In 49 races with Williams, where he has been ‘on loan’ from Mercedes, Russell has been increasingly impressive and in the last two of those grands prix he has scored his first points for the team – finishing eighth in Hungary and being classified second in Belgium.
Capito, the Williams managing director and team principal, makes no secret of his opinion that the 23-year-old Briton is a World Champion in the making.
He has now quipped that he sees Russell following in the footsteps of his compatriot Lewis Hamilton by securing a title for Mercedes – followed by doing the same in a mythical return to the team where he has cut his Formula 1 teeth.
What a weekend! It’s no secret that we’ve had some tough times in recent years, but not one member of this team has ever stopped pushing. You all belong up on that podium, @WilliamsRacing. It was a privilege to represent you up there today. 💙 pic.twitter.com/9hLpCUaanF
— George Russell (@GeorgeRussell63) August 29, 2021
Asked by Channel 4 how badly he is keen to hang on to Russell at his fast-improving team, Capito replied: “No, I do not want to hang on to him, because he deserves to be in a car that can win the Championship.
“As he, the driver can win the Championship, he deserves a car that can win the Championship and he can do that in the Mercedes.
“And I am convinced he will come back in a couple of years and win the Championship with us.”
Asked if that was a scoop, Capito simply laughed – but there is no question Williams are now making strong progress from the lows of their dismal 2019 and 2020 campaigns.
Luck has been on their side in accumulating 20 points this season, but their qualifying performances in particular are those of a team who are on the up with Russell now starting to become a regular participant in Q3.
Nicholas Latifi is also shedding the tag of being a certainty for Q1 elimination in a normal qualifying session, with the Canadian having notched up consecutive P7 and P9 classifications heading into the Dutch Grand Prix.