George Russell, Mercedes, Yas Marina, 2020

Russell certain he will drive for Williams in 2021 despite strong Mercedes debut

2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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George Russell says he will drive for Williams next year despite speculation that his impressive debut for Mercedes last week could lead him to join the team next year.

Mercedes has already extended Valtteri Bottas’s contract for the 2021 F1 season and is expected to re-sign world champion Lewis Hamilton for next year.

Following last weekend’s race Russell said he hoped to give team principal Toto Wolff a “headache” over his 2021 driver line-up. But Russell said today that was a “throwaway remark in the heat of the moment, obviously emotions were high and what have you.”

“Ultimately I have a contract and I’m a Williams driver for 2021,” he added.

Russell led much of Sunday’s race before a pit stop error and puncture dropped him out of contention for victory. Rumours have surfaced since then suggesting Red Bull could make an move to sign the Mercedes junior driver.

However Russell would not be drawn on the claims when asked by RaceFans.

“My management is Mercedes,” he said. “I signed a deal with Mercedes back in 2016 and they are my managers. They invested in me, they put faith in me and that means a huge amount. I am committed to Mercedes so I’m happy and confident with my position under their guidance.”

He is waiting to learn whether the team will need him again this weekend as a replacement for Lewis Hamilton, who missed the previous race after testing positive for Covid-19.

“I’m unsure, to be honest,” he said. “We’re still waiting to get Lewis’s results back. For now we are going ahead as planned and if Lewis returns with a negative result he will be back in the car.”

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2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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12 comments on “Russell certain he will drive for Williams in 2021 despite strong Mercedes debut”

  1. Russell at Red Bull would make me very happy. Some strong racing guaranteed from Verstappen and Russell over the season. As well as entertaining, it would make Red Bull much more competitive and throw Mercedes off-kilter for a whole number of reasons. In one race Russell showed why he should be at Mercedes next year, not Bottas. Their problem if he switches to another team instead of being stuck at the back of the grid based on Mercedes’s ‘guarantee’ that he’ll eventually get a drive (cue Ocon…)

  2. As well as Russell did in Dubhi, one has to see that circuit in context.

    For one, it has plenty of run-off so a driver and drive to their limits without fear. Compare that circuit to Singapore or Canada, with its walls and you’d see a different driver, not so gung-ho, a bit more circumspect. On those tracks it all comes down to the driver’s fearlessness when going for those qualifying times. I wonder if there’s a body of data supporting this thesis.

    IMO Lewis is a great example of fearlessness on those tracks when there are much higher stakes.

  3. … can drive to their limits …

  4. Keeping Bottas tarnishes Hamilton’s achievements. Where is competition supposed to come from without a good second seat and FIA’s unending willingness to continue Mercedes domination at all costs? Not that he needs to prove himself after seasons such as 2008 and 2017, but it sure would be nice for the rest of us.

    1. Mercedes have had 7 years of titles now. At first it was a novelty. Then it was waiting for the other teams to catch up. In 2017, 2018 and to some extent 2019 we had Ferrari equal but then fading. This year there has been no competition to the Mercedes pair – beyond mess ups of their own making. Next year is set to be the same. And that’s surely a real problem for everyone. Literally no prospect of anyone challenging Mercedes+Hamilton. Even as a Hamilton fan (in a non-exclusive sense) that’s a wearisome prospect. Russell next to him would instantly change the excitement level for 2021. And if Mercedes don’t go for the Bottas-Russell swap, I’m rooting (against all odds) for a Verstappen-Russell lineup at Red Bull. Sorry Mercedes, you owe the sport this one. At the very least some real competition to Hamilton in the other car.

  5. Russell is playing this game perfectly, toeing the company line. If it happens, it’s going to happen, no point stirring up the press any more than it already has with the instagram edits and hinting at, or worse, trying to force anything. Could just upset somebody higher up by having the wrong attitude and ruin the whole thing.

  6. In an alternative Universe, George wins last week and Lewis cant race this. George wins again….Then he’s back to driving for Williams in 2021, at the back, and Bottas is back to underwhelming next to Lewis. The clamour for him to get the seat would be huge. As would the expectation. Maybe its better this way, he’ll probably still get the seat but not with the same expectation. Well, apart from those who thought him the best thing since round wheels after some good Saturdays

  7. Russel will take over Bottas’ Mercedes seat next year in syaa Allah. They will figure out something on how to go around their present respective contracts. RP has done that with SP so it is not unthinkable to revisit the route. Keep positive Russel.

  8. If Lewis doesn’t sign for 2021 then his seat should go to Sergio. My recollection is Valtteri’s seat at Mercedes should also have gone to Sergio when Nico Rosberg resigned because he had to most WDC points that year for a driver in a Mercedes powered car (bar Mercedes team drivers).

  9. I think this is a good thing to spend a few years at a bad team. Look at Verstappen. He was always a petulant fool, but getting to a top team early has made that phase last longer. The old way of bedding in at a back marker is a good thing. Especially since the drivers are so young now.

  10. Russell will replace Bottas for next season. There will be a lot of pressure internally at Mercedes, lot of pressure from F1 ownership to have it competitive at the front of the field. It’s in everyone’s interest.

    At the end of the day this is a billion dollar sport they aren’t going to let the hurt feelings of Valtteri Bottas get in the way of drawing eyeballs to the sport.

    It will almost be farcical for the sport if a driver that is quicker than Bottas despite no preparation is left to wither with the worst car on the grid in 2021. The substitute driver is not supposed to be quicker than your regular driver.

    Hamilton vs Bottas means we already know who wins the drivers championship. Even in one sided Schumacher seasons of 2002 and 2004 we had actual hope due to massive rule changes that the competition will closer next year. We have zero hope going into 2021. That’s not what sport is about when you know exactly who will win 12 months out.

    What also needs to be considered is what if Hamilton gets COVID again. If he misses a few races you’d rather Russell picking up the points as your regular driver rather than as your substitute since he can win a championship for you. I would have no confidence in Bottas winning a championship even with a car as dominant as this years.

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