Williams hope to one day reflect on working "with one of the greats" in Russell
Williams team principal Simon Roberts has accepted the likelihood George Russell could leave the team at the end of the year when his contract comes to an end.
Russell joined Williams in 2019 on a three-year deal but almost immediately was linked with a move to Mercedes where he had been nurtured through the junior ranks.
The Briton had previously followed Charles Leclerc in winning back-to-back titles in F3 - GP3 when the Monégasque competed - and F2 en route to landing a drive in F1 with Alfa Romeo.
But while Leclerc was promoted from Alfa to Ferrari after one year in the sport, it was determined Russell would see out his three-year contract with Williams.
The 22-year-old has since proven his talent at the team, underlined by his substitute appearance with Mercedes in last year's Sakhir Grand Prix when Lewis Hamilton was sidelined with Covid-19, leading to suggestions he will join permanently in 2022.
Asked by GPFans Global if he was resigned to losing Russell when his contract expires at the end of the year, Roberts said: “That feels like a long, long way away but who knows.
"We’ve got to assume that this [being with Williams] is part of his career, that it is not going to be his whole career.
“It would be nice to think we’ve worked with one of the greats one day.”
Throughout last year Russell received widespread praise from his peers, with two-time champion Fernando Alonso labelling him as his pick of the young talents to watch in the future.
Explaining what makes Russell special, Roberts added: “He’s just one of those drivers that has a huge sack full of natural talent.
"What he did in Bahrain, that qualifying lap [to secure a Q2 spot and 14th], where that qualifying lap came from we don’t know. That was one of those special laps that you get every now and again in F1 and he can do that.
“He is very young but he comes from a good place and perhaps when people see that kind of lap in him that is what makes them think ‘This is the real deal’."
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