George Russell suspects rumours that he could be replaced at Williams for the 2021 Formula 1 season have been “fed by the [Sergio] Perez camp” in a bid to pressure Red Bull into making a decision on its line-up. 

With Racing Point signing Sebastian Vettel to head up its Aston Martin rebrand project, current driver Perez has been left without a seat for 2021 and is currently weighing up his options. 

Despite Williams announcing that Russell and Nicholas Latifi would be retained next year, the team’s change of ownership has led to speculation that Perez could be in contention to take Russell’s seat at the British outfit. 

Acting team principal Simon Roberts refused to take the opportunity to confirm Russell and Latifi for 2021 when he faced the media on Friday at the Portuguese Grand Prix, which only further fuelled the rumours. 

With Perez and fellow free agent Nico Hulkenberg both being named as possible candidates to partner Max Verstappen if Red Bull opts to drop the underperforming Alex Albon, Russell has suggested the speculation is simply an attempt to strengthen Perez’s position. 

“Nothing’s changed,” Russell insisted. “I try and do my talking on the track and, as I said before, I am not concerned for next year. I know Mercedes and Toto [Wolff] have my back, Toto himself has told me that, which I absolutely trust.

"I think all of this speculation has probably been fed by the Perez camp, who are trying to apply pressure on other teams further down the grid, potentially [for] a Red Bull seat. 

"That's my view on it. I've got a contract, I've got nothing to worry about, and I'm just here focusing on my job.”

Russell said he is “very confident” of being on the grid next year with Williams and expects clarity about his position from the team within a week. 

"They've said they have no idea where these rumours have come from," Russell explained. 

"They never like to comment on contractual situations obviously following Simon's press conference on Friday, things again were taken probably slightly out of context, which is exactly what the team didn't want to do.

"Ultimately the team didn't want to comment on it because they felt like it isn't necessary, and it's just opening themselves up to further queries later down the line.

"I've got a contract, and I'll be on the grid next year, and I'm very confident of that. I think something pretty substantial would have to happen in the coming weeks for anything to change.

"There's obviously a lot of speculation. I think it's been fed from other people. Everything will be, like I said, everything will be fine.

"I'd say [it will be] 100% clarified from the team's perspective probably no later than the end of next week."

 

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