Russell says Williams exit rumours ‘fed by Perez camp’ as Mercedes vow to back him
George Russell says he has a contract with Williams for 2021 and that rumours suggesting he was to be pushed out were being “fed by the [Sergio] Perez camp” after the Mexican was linked with the team.
Perez was let go by Racing Point, with four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel coming onboard next year alongside Lance Stroll, and the eight-time podium finisher has been exploring his options for 2021, one of which is understood to have involved talks with Williams’ new owners Dorilton.
The belief is that Russell, rather than Nicholas Latifi, who brings significant financial backing, would be the driver to make way should Williams decide to change things up – but Russell was bullish about his future, having spoken to the new owners during the Portuguese Grand Prix weekend.
“Nothing’s changed from my side,” said Russell, who is a Mercedes junior driver. “I try and do my talking on the track, and as I said before I am not concerned for next year. I know Mercedes and Toto [Wolff] have my back. They’ve told me that. Toto himself has told me that, which I absolutely trust.
“I think all this speculation has probably been fed by the Perez camp who are trying to apply pressure on other teams further down the grid. Potentially [for] a Red Bull seat. So that’s my views on it, I’ve got a contract, I’ve got nothing to worry about and I’m just here trying to do that.
“I spoke with them [the new owners], they said don’t worry, and everything’s going to be fine. We had a small chat about it and moved on to talking about the rest of this year, moving into next year and how we’re going to push the team further forward, which is enough for me.”
Russell added that he reckons “everything will be fine” and that the situation would be “100% clarified from the team’s perspective, probably no later than the end of the week”.
Meanwhile Mercedes boss Wolff said it is up to Williams to decide what they do, and he would keep Russell on board if it was up to him, but if the team decide to go another way, Mercedes will continue to support their young driver.
“I think it’s not looking bad to be honest,” said Wolff of Russell’s future at Williams. “There are a lot of theories whether he stays or not and there are drivers, clearly good guys, also with a bit of budget there. I think the reason why the investors have come in is that they want to be competitive.
“They have made a sensible plan on how to increase performance every year and they are not expecting any wonders short-term but they have a clear path to success over the next few years and I think that George can play a role in there. He’s clearly performing very well, the team likes him. If I were them I would keep him.
“Whether he stays or not, if he stays then we have to make a decision next year what to do and if he doesn’t stay then it becomes more of an imminent topic. Let’s see what happens.
He added: “If George were to slip through the system I would be happy to take him in our squad, we will have a sensational reserve. I would put him through a mega testing programme and prepare him in the best way for a 2022 blast.”