George Russell’s future is out of Mercedes’ hands and solely up to Williams to decide, according to Toto Wolff.
Sergio Perez has emerged as a candidate for a seat with Williams in 2021 despite Russell and teammate Nicholas Latifi both having contracts for next year as it stands. Russell is the driver under threat due to the commercial package Latifi brings to the team — something that also makes Perez attractive amid the need to develop a totally new car for 2022 — and Mercedes team principal Wolff (pictured at left, above, with Russell) says there is little he can do if Williams wants to make a change.
“At the end it’s Williams’ decision,” Wolff said. “We all know about George’s capabilities — he’s a star of the future and remains unbeaten by his teammates in Formula 1. Sometimes he is able to show highlights in a car that is not competitive at the moment, and I think he’s a great team asset.
“But then obviously there is a financial reality that I cannot judge at all, and it’s absolutely the discretion of the new owners and Simon (Roberts) to decide what they want to do going forward.”
Williams acting team principal Roberts refused to confirm that both Russell and Latifi would have their 2021 contracts honored despite numerous opportunities to do so on Friday, and Wolff admits he has been in touch to try and clarify the situation.
“Yeah, we touched base about George but at the end as I said it’s their call,” Wolff added.
Perez would not name teams he is in talks with, but suggested he had been in discussions with more than one,
“I haven’t signed anything,” Perez said. “At the moment there’s not a lot that I have to report or say. The season is coming to an end so it’s getting close and I should be in a position to say something pretty soon, I think. But up to now I don’t think there’s a lot of point in giving away anything, because I also want to keep my negotiations private. I think we’ve got to be respectful of all the teams that we’re talking to and so there’s no point to discuss anything at the moment.
“There are not many teams out there! Actually very few. It’s not like a number, but there are very few teams out there that have a good project … and I’m willing to be in that project.”