Toto Wolff names two possible replacements for Williams if Mercedes sign George Russell

Hamilton takes stunning win after crash with Max Verstappen

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Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has suggested that Nyck de Vries and Stoffel Vandoorne, who currently race for the Silver Arrows in Formula E, are good enough to replace George Russell at Williams next season. The latter has been heavily linked with a move to Mercedes in place of Valtteri Bottas, who will be out of contract at the end of the year.

Russell has excelled at Williams since joining the historic British team two years ago, turning plenty of heads with a number of consistently impressive performances in qualifying.

He also starred during a one-off opportunity to race for Mercedes at last year’s Sakhir Grand Prix in Bahrain despite seeing his efforts squandered by a botched pit-stop and a slow puncture late on.

The man from King’s Lynn is widely considered to have championship-winning potential as the result of his ability to squeeze every drop of performance from the machinery underneath him on a regular basis.

Although he has been contracted to Williams since 2019, Russell is still a Mercedes junior driver and has been tipped by many to receive the call-up to race alongside Lewis Hamilton next season.

However, the move would leave his current team in need of a replacement with the ability to assume a commanding role and continue to lead their charge up the order.

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Wolff, who will decide whether or not to hand Russell a race seat at Mercedes between now and next year, has suggested that De Vries or Vandoorne could be more than capable of filling the potential vacancy at Williams.

The duo have impressed in Formula E as Silver Arrows team-mates and although Wolff is delighted with the pairing, he told Autosport that he would not prevent either man from taking up any opportunities to land an F1 drive in the near future.

“Both drivers have the talent and the work ethic and the intelligence to be in Formula One,” said the Mercedes boss.

“Both of them won the most important junior series [Formula 2, formerly GP2 Series]. Stoffel was thrown in a situation with McLaren that was difficult to handle back in the day.

“They both deserve to be Formula One and I would very much hope they can find their way back. I’m really happy having them as our drivers in Formula E, I couldn’t wish for anybody else.

“But I would never be in the way of any driver if they were to have the possibility of driving in Formula One.”

De Vries and Vandoorne both currently serve as test and reserve drivers for Mercedes in F1, but only the latter has experience of racing at the pinnacle of motorsport on a weekly basis.

He drove for McLaren for three years between 2016 and 2018, scoring just 26 points overall before he was dropped along with team-mate Fernando Alonso in favour of Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz.

When quizzed on the speculation over a possible future move to Williams, Vandoorne remained coy and insisted that he will not lose any sleep if the proposed switch does not come to fruition.

“Formula One, from my side, I’ve had the opportunity to be there already,” he said. “I’ve been there with McLaren, not in the best conditions, let’s say.

“For me it’s not like a must, it’s not an obsession, like I have to be there. Things are on the up [at Williams] but it’s not in the back of my mind.”

Meanwhile, De Vries also underlined his desire to flourish with Mercedes, admitting that he was left shocked by the rumours of a left-field move to Williams.

“I read that rumour too, and it was probably as much as a surprise to you as for me,” added the Dutchman.

“I’m very happy with Mercedes and Formula E, and this is where I want to be succeeding. Whatever happens in the longer or mid-term future, I don’t know.”

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