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Head of vehicle performance Dave Robson admits it would be a ‘huge loss’ to Williams if they lose George Russell, with the Briton’s contract coming to an end this year.
Russell has been heavily linked with Mercedes after his performance at the Sakhir Grand Prix, as he sat in for a COVID-stricken Lewis Hamilton in Bahrain and showcased himself as one of the up-and-coming young talents on the grid.
The Mercedes junior driver made his debut with Williams in 2019 after an impressive stint in Formula 2 before stepping up to F1, but has been on the seven-time world champions’ radar ever since he joined the Mercedes young academy in 2017.
There’s been much speculation surrounding the Mercedes driver lineup for 2022, with Hamilton and Bottas both opting for a one-year deal in 2021, with the ever-growing presence of George Russell, who is also out of contract with Williams, seemingly waiting in the wings.
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However, Russell’s fate is out of his hands, with Mercedes boss Toto Wolff admitting he is fully committed to his current contract, but stated he was weighing up his options for next season.
Hamilton has already suggested talks for a new contract are underway, the question mark still remains around Bottas’ future.
Williams, who have said they would like to keep the 23-year-old at the team, said it would be a massive loss to the team if he did decide to move on.
“From the first moment we evaluated him, it has been fantastic to work with him,” Robson told Motorsport.com
“It was clear he had something in him, an exceptional talent to drive the car.”
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Yet Robson was clear to state that he knows that there is a good chance Russell will leave Williams after this season.
However, he admitted Russell’s future is out of their hands.
“It’s been a great time. At times it’s probably been frustrating, he added.
“But it’s been a great journey we’ve been on with him. Obviously, it would be a big loss, he’s really quick.
“When he talks people listen, which is important – provided it’s about the right things.
“It would be a huge loss, but I don’t know if I have much control over that. If we can keep him, that would be fantastic, but we have to see how it all plays out.”
Bottas says he expects contract discussions with Mercedes to start over the “next month or so,” as the Finn looks to keep his seat in 2022.
Meanwhile, Hamilton and Wolff have both admitted they want to start contract talks by the August summer break, but Bottas seems to have been left in limbo for his 2022 plans.
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