Williams has long been a customer team of Mercedes, with the partnership first beginning in 2014. They are the other team alongside Racing Point and McLaren, who will continue to use the engines next season.
However, there was recent speculation that Mercedes might use their engine deal as leverage to force Williams to keep their driver, George Russell, on the team for 2021.
But Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff has staunchly defied any such news. He believes that their relationship with Williams as a supplier-customer will continue, even if they do without Russell’s services.
As revealed by Wolff, Russell’s future will not affect the engine supply, as it is not related to the situation. He also said that Mercedes is an honorable company that respects contracts.
Wolff was quoted saying, “We wouldn’t be happy, but it wouldn’t damage our relationship with Williams. The engine contract isn’t tied to Russell. It’s a separate deal.”
“We have a contract with Williams until 2025, and Mercedes is known for respecting contracts. And we respect Williams’ independence. You have to make the decisions that are best for your team,” said Wolff (Translated by Google Translate).
Before the Portuguese GP, Mercedes-backed Russell had stated that he was confident of driving with the team for 2021, as he has a contract in place with Williams that lets him do so.
Stranger things have happened in F1, and so albeit disappointing. It will not be surprising to see Williams let go of Russell, especially if someone like Sergio Perez agrees to move to the team.
From that perspective, the 22-year-old British driver’s development would serve well if he moved to another F1 team. Haas has two seats open for the next season, and Russell might be interested.
Another option is to return to the Mercedes stable, one that has backed him for a long time now. And while he will not actively race as often as he does in Williams, he could learn a lot from the defending champions and prepare for future opportunities there.