Williams chief Jost Capito says he hopes the team can keep hold of George Russell for 2022 but accepts that the Briton would be “stupid” to turn down any potential Mercedes offer.
Mercedes-backed Russell has raced in Formula 1 for Williams since 2019 and is in the final year of a three-year deal.
He has been heavily linked with a switch to Mercedes for 2022, ostensibly in place of Valtteri Bottas, having bolstered his claim with his performance at last year’s Sakhir Grand Prix.
Williams has undergone several structural changes in the wake of Dorilton Capital acquiring the operation from the Williams family in August 2020.
That included the appointment of Capito as CEO in February, and the appointment of ‘FX’ Demaison as Technical Director, under a revised management set-up.
Speaking at the Styrian Grand Prix, Capito addressed Russell’s future, commenting: “George’s contract ends end of the year, the three-year contract, so he is free at the end of the year.
“So whatever he decides, whatever options he has… at the moment he likes being at Williams, he likes working with us, he sees where the team is going, he sees the changes we are doing and the approach we are taking and he is very supportive and positive about all that.
“Of course if he would get the chance to get in the Mercedes he would be stupid not doing it but if he doesn’t get the chance to go into the Mercedes I think he would be quite happy to stay at Williams, and this is all what we can work for and hope for.”
Capito reiterated that Williams is in no rush to sort its 2022 driver line-up and is willing to wait until Mercedes makes its decision.
“When a contract ends they might stay or might move on – that’s a normal discussion,” he said.
“Of course we have to have a back-up plan as we also see the likeliness that Mercedes will give him an offer, and then we will have to see.
“But in the moment I don’t see that we have any need to act on anything before Mercedes has decided what they are going to do.”
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