Williams: Difficult to keep Russell if Mercedes call

Tom Rawcliffe
George Russell Williams PA

George Russell Williams PA

Jost Capito is well aware the chances of keeping George Russell are slim, especially if Mercedes were to come calling.

Russell is entering the final year of his ‘loan’ deal with Williams from Mercedes, where the Briton has been part of their junior programme since 2017.

Despite Williams’ position stuck at the bottom of the Formula 1 grid, Russell has been able to make the most of his drive and has shown his potential during his time with the Grove-based constructor.

Russell has been tipped to be Sir Lewis Hamilton’s replacement at Mercedes when he decides his career should come to an end and there is a chance that could be after the 2021 season, given he only signed a one-year deal with the Silver Arrows this winter.

In an interview with Formel1.de, new Williams CEO Capito admitted: “If a driver gets an offer from Mercedes in the current situation, there are very few alternatives.”

If Russell were to get the chance, it would not be his first time racing with Mercedes after his impressive showing when filling in for Hamilton last year in Bahrain.

He has no doubt impressed other team bosses too though, so may also have the option of moving elsewhere if Mercedes did not come calling.

Capito added: “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.”

There is certainly no lack of faith from Capito in the 23-year-old, who truly believes he can be a future World Champion in the sport.

The German has managed a few of them in his time, including seven-time WRC champion Sebastien Ogier, and Capito can see some similarities between the two.

“There are some parallels,” Capito added. “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.”

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