Claire Williams feels George Russell has everything he needs to be Formula 1 World Champion in the future, and she foresees a long career ahead of the Briton, hopefully with her team.
The Williams Racing driver will take to the grid in Austria next month for the opening race of the delayed 2020 season, and he will be looking for improved results after a disappointing rookie campaign saw him be the only driver not to score a point.
Williams, the Deputy Team Principal of the Grove-based outfit, says Russell has the ‘whole package’, and despite being a ‘nice guy’ has the layer of steel on top of the natural talent he obviously possesses, much akin to six-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton.
“George has the whole package,” Williams said to the PA News Agency. “He looks like an unassuming, nice guy, but he has a layer of steel within him which he has been taught by his parents.
“He hasn’t had a silver motor racing spoon in his mouth since he was born. He hasn’t had it easy, and the family haven’t had it easy to get him to this point either.
“He is fairly similar to Lewis Hamilton in that sense. When you don’t have it gifted to you, it makes you hungry, it makes you fight. That brings a certain edge to a driver, but George also understands that it doesn’t just take a natural talent to achieve that.
“He can always learn, always grow and build. He is only 22 and he has a very long career ahead of him in this sport.”
“George is such an instrumental part of this team”
Russell has a three-year contract with the team that runs until the end of 2022, but should a call come from Mercedes-Benz to join their front-running team, they would not deny him that chance.
The twenty-two-year-old has long been a protégé at Mercedes and would be a frontrunner for a drive with them should either Hamilton or Valtteri Bottas leave.
“George has a very clear ambition,” said Williams. “He wants to be a F1 world champion, and I firmly believe he will. George is such an instrumental part of this team, and I want to give him a car so he doesn’t look elsewhere.
“He has a long-term contract with us, and I would expect to see him in a Williams car until that contract expires. But Mercedes is Mercedes, and I never want to stand in the way of giving a driver a great opportunity, if our team is not in a competitive position.”