Williams: Russell is F1 world champion material
This has been a challenging season for George Russell, whose Williams FW42 does not have the pace to compete in the midfield, let alone for points. But the British rookie and reigning F2 champion has still impressed his boss, with Claire Williams saying she reckons he is “world champion material” - and unsurprisingly she is keen to hold on to him.
McLaren got the F1 paddock talking about the driver market on Tuesday when they announced Lando Norris would be staying at the team in 2020, alongside Carlos Sainz.
Russell, a Mercedes junior, signed a multi-year deal with Williams when he agreed to join the iconic British outfit last year, so his short-term future is assured – but the Briton has had the edge over his more experienced team mate Robert Kubica throughout the year so far and Williams said at Silverstone on Thursday that she wants to retain his services.
“We haven’t had any conversations about George potentially leaving the team in the short term because he’s on a long-term contract with us,” she said. “George is, for me, world champion material. Why would I want to lose George from our team?
“I would do everything in my power to keep George Russell at Williams. My ambition is that one day we will be able to provide George with a car where in steps, he can start competing at the top of the midfield, and then hopefully compete for podiums.
“That’s going to take time, clearly but we have got to have ambition. George is a big part of Williams’ future. We made a clear decision, when we brought George in last year. Why we chose George was because we wanted him to be a part of this journey.
“I hope the end result of that journey is that we give them a good enough car to show his true potential.”
Regarding their driver line-up for 2020, Williams said the team - who will celebrate 50 years of Frank Williams at the helm at their home race this weekend - have “started to think about” their plans “but we’re in no position to be making any final decisions yet, and that probably won’t come until the third quarter of this year”.