Toto Wolff has reaffirmed that George Russell remains in Mercedes’ long-term plans, despite allowing the Englishman to spend a third year with Williams.
Russell is ‘on loan’, in football parlance, from his role as a Mercedes junior driver and at the Hungarian Grand Prix it was confirmed he will also spend 2021 as a Williams driver along with Nicholas Latifi.
The 22-year-old from Norfolk is essentially waiting for an opportunity at Mercedes, but for the time being the door is closed with the World Champions as Valtteri Bottas is expected to be confirmed for next year again alongside Lewis Hamilton.
But Wolff insists Russell is certainly not being forgotten about and remains happy with the current arrangement, which suits both his team and Williams.
3 great Saturdays. 3 tough Sundays.
Bring on the next 3, starting at home 🇬🇧💪 pic.twitter.com/sTgPGxl5mQ
— George Russell (@GeorgeRussell63) July 19, 2020
“George is very important for the long term but not for 2021,” Wolff told Crash.net.
“We are very happy with the line-up we have. Valtteri and Lewis perform well, they get on really well with each other, which is important for the dynamic within the team, and the engineers really appreciate their feedback.
“But we are always looking at the long-term picture. George and us knew what we were getting ourselves into two years ago. Williams gave George the opportunity to come into Formula 1 and this is why the decision that Williams takes, we respect very much.
“George has a three-year contract with Williams that runs one more year and Claire (Williams) made very clear that she sees George as an important asset to the team, and from that side one must respect the contractual situation.
“On the other side, it doesn’t mean that if George would be free he would find a guaranteed slot at Mercedes. Valtteri and Lewis are our drivers today and loyalty is something that is very important to us.”
Regarding Williams’ early-season form, which has been more encouraging than last year’s dismal campaign, Wolff added: “I’m very pleased for the team because Williams has always been close to my heart.
“They made the jump from cruising at the back of the grid last year to actually into the midfield.
“They are competing, they are racing other cars, and it seems like the car is a great qualifying car. It has made a big step in qualifying and they will eventually consolidate that position.
“For Nicholas and George, it’s good that they are in the pack, that they are fighting. Therefore the learning curve will continue and that is important for both of us going forward.”