Williams hints at Russell departure

George Russell

Williams boss Jost Capito has hinted that he doesn’t expect his team to keep hold of George Russell next season.

Russell is in his third season of F1, and has established himself as one of the sport’s most promising youngsters.

That was emphasised with a starring substitute performance with the factory Mercedes team at last year’s Sakhir Grand Prix.

On the books as part of the Mercedes driver development programme, a permanent move to the Brackley squad has long been rumoured.

There were suggestions it could have come as early as this year, despite both Russell and Valtteri Bottas having signed contracts.

With both deals set to expire at the end of 2021, Russell is tipped to be on the move.

“You can’t ask me that,” Capito said when asked about Russell’s future with Williams.

“I think that, you know, George is a Mercedes driver for many years and I don’t think that they will let him go.

“But we will see, we’ve got time to talk about drivers. We are not in a need now to discuss that.”

Helping Williams’ seemingly slender chances is the fact it has undergone significant change over the past 12 months.

Dorilton Capital has taken over ownership of the team, with several key positions having been filled with new faces.

That’s seen Capito installed as CEO, and Simon Roberts as team principal.

There have been appointments in the technical department too, and from next season a closer relationship with powerunit supplier Mercedes.

With Russell reportedly keen for a multi-year deal, Capito suggests the building blocks are there should the Englishman wish to stay on for the journey.

“He’s doing a great job,” he said.

“He’s a fantastic driver, we created a really good relationship, and I think he would fit very well to Williams for our future as well.

“I think if he believes in our future, there might be a chance to keep him.”

At Mercedes, Bottas has revealed contract discussions have not yet begun, but that he hoped to have them completed by August.

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