George Russell and Nicholas Latifi have described the exit of the Williams family from the Formula 1 team as a “sad day”.

It was confirmed on Thursday that the Williams family would be stepping down from the team after this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix following the takeover of the company by US investment firm Dorilton Capital.

Both drivers were handed their F1 debuts with the Grove-based outfit having progressed from Formula 2.

“Obviously it’s a sad day for us,” Russell said.

“For me personally, Frank and Claire gave me my opportunity in F1, it’s something I’m very thankful and grateful for and obviously having the opportunity to drive for such an amazing and prestigious team for the two years I’ve been here so far.

“It’s sad to see the Williams family step aside, but the history of Williams will remain and we will continue to fight and represent the family name.”

Teammate Latifi echoed Russell’s comments and admitted he was a “bit shocked” by the news as he had not anticipated any changes to come so quickly.

“From my side I was definitely a bit shocked to hear the news this morning,” he said.

“I think when the news broke that the team was sold, it was definitely something in the back in my mind that I could have anticipated but just wasn’t expecting it so soon.

“Even the whole sale of the team in general happened much quicker than anyone thought.

“For me I haven’t yet done my first full season in F1 but I’ve been in the team environment and part of the Williams family since last year in my role in the team,” Latifi added.

“It was very special that Claire and Frank gave me my first opportunity to cut my teeth in F1. I think it’s always going to special that where I started out was with Williams.

“The culture and atmosphere that has been cultivated over the years here is going to remain the same because that’s something that will not go just because Claire and the family are stepping aside. I’m just very grateful for them to have given me the opportunity.”

Williams has not yet announced who will take over the day-to-day running of the team after Monza but Russell is sure the British squad will be in a strong position.

"For Claire and the Williams family, the team means a huge amount to them, more than it does to anyone else," Russell explained.

"They would have not sold it to a company if they did not have faith that they have the team's best interests at heart.

"I am definitely at ease with the situation, knowing that if Claire and the Williams family are happy with it, then they're only doing it for the best interests of the team."

And Russell pointed to Toto Wolff’s success as Mercedes team principal as proof that a replacement does not necessarily need previous experience in F1.

"If you look at Toto as an example, he had a bit of motorsport experience, but he didn't have a huge amount of Formula 1 experience," he said.

"He came in and he's not done too bad I don't think. I don't think it's hugely important to be honest."