Jost Capito rates Williams’ 2022 F1 prospects as Mercedes ponder George Russell decision

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Williams’ new CEO Jost Capito believes it will be ‘impossible’ for the British team to win a race in 2022, despite their new owners and the upcoming regulation changes.

That will be concerning news for George Russell, whose future is still in doubt as Mercedes consider whether to promote the 23-year-old. Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas’ contracts with Mercedes expire at the end of 2021.

The Brit’s chances of a promotion came under scrutiny at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix on Sunday after colliding with Bottas and Mercedes chief Toto Wolff remarked that the Williams driver had “a lot to learn” following the incident.

His three-year deal at Williams ends this year but with his position entirely in Mercedes’ hands, he could be forced to re-sign with the Oxfordshire outfit for another year.

“Of course, I would love to keep him. There is no doubt,” Capito told Tom Clarkson on F1’s Beyond the Grid podcast.

Unsurprisingly, Capito was full of praise for Russell, comparing him to 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen, who he gave his F1 debut at Sauber back in 2001.

Capito added: “His driving is brilliant. His natural talent is brilliant, but he doesn’t rely just on natural talent.

“He is never happy, and the driver should never be happy with what he has, but he has the ability to get the team behind him.

“Everybody is really pushing and motivated to give him what he is demanding and that is an ability that really a top driver needs.”

However, Williams’ desire to keep him will have been dealt a huge blow as Capito revealed that the team would not be fighting it out with the likes of Mercedes and Red Bull next year, something that Russell will be eager to enjoy after several seasons at the back of the grid.

He continued: “There are no miracles in this sport, so we will not have a winning car next year that’s absolutely clear.

“This is simply impossible because that is a longer-term objective you have to work towards.”

With the 2022 regulation changes incoming, many were expecting Williams to benefit massively from them. They hoped the team would have a similar performance jump as they did when F1 moved over to hybrid power units, going from ninth in 2013 to third in 2014.

This was bolstered when US investment firm Dorilton Capital bought the team last year, promising to return Williams to the front of the grid.

However, investments in developing the 2022 car and getting staff in appear to have come too late, with technical director Francois-Xavier Demaison only recently joining the team.

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Capito said: “We are expecting and working towards a significant step, but to say that there is a chance to win the championship in next year that’s a completely different dimension.

“The new regulations give a chance, but the new owners came in towards the end of last year and there is a lot of investment needed.

“You have to make this investment work, to make that all that work for the ‘22 car is already quite late.”

Williams will be hoping that their future potential will be enough to retain the highly-rated Russell, but given his ties to Mercedes, his future may not be in his or Williams’ control.

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