Williams ‘held talks over axing George Russell’ before Mercedes move

George Russell joins Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes

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Williams remarkably considered ditching George Russell in favour of Kevin Magnussen ahead of the 2021 season. Russell has since secured a move to Mercedes for 2022 where he will partner seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton.

The Brit is set to be replaced by Alex Albon at Williams but he was almost replaced in favour of Magnussen last offseason.

The Dane had just competed in what was his last Formula 1 season with Haas and he held talks with a number of teams – including the Grove outfit.

His addition would have been at the expense of Russell, who had been displaying his potential on a consistent basis.

Russell had whitewashed Latifi in qualifying in 2020 and only lost to his team-mate in two of the Grands Prix in which both drivers finished for Williams.

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“Williams saw me as a possible replacement for George Russell,” Magnussen told TV3.

“The answer came right behind me. ‘What kind of team is that?’ I think.

“Dropping Russell and keeping Nicholas Latifi was ridiculous, pure idiocy.

“George Russell is a mega-talent who won both GP3 and Formula 2 in his first season in those series, and he should not leave Formula 1.

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“If Williams wanted anything, it should have been out with the Canadian.”

The 29-year-old added: “Then they would have George Russell and Kevin Magnussen, a strong line-up in my eyes.”

Williams reportedly wanted money for the race seat, either through sponsorship or Magnussen paying a ‘proper’ amount himself.

He wasn’t interested and the driver walked away from Formula 1, instead trying out endurance racing.

“I had ended up in a bit of a stalemate in Formula 1,” Magnussen continued.

“But I actually had an opportunity to stay because I was in contact with Williams.

“However, it would be like rewinding back in time at McLaren and Renault.

“I had to find a lot of sponsors for Williams or throw a proper cheque at them.”

If Williams had dropped Russell it could have potentially cost them a chunk of points this season with the Brit having scored 16 points, Latifi just seven.

Nine of Russell’s points came from his podium finish at the Belgian Grand Prix, his incredible P2 in a wet qualifying session securing a second-place finish as the race was abandoned.

Formula 1 returns to the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez for the Mexican Grand Prix on November 7, with Red Bull star Max Verstappen holding a slender 12-point lead over Mercedes’ Hamilton.

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