Williams acting Formula 1 team principal Simon Roberts has refused to confirm whether George Russell and Nicholas Latifi will continue to drive for the team in 2021. 

An announcement in July confirmed that Russell and Latifi would remain with the team for the 2021 season but the British squad has since been bought by Dorilton Capital.

Current free agent Sergio Perez has since emerged as a surprise candidate for Williams, potentially taking the place of Russell within the team for next year.

Roberts stressed that “nothing has changed” since Dorilton’s takeover when he addressed the media on Friday ahead of the Portuguese Grand Prix, but he failed to confirm the team’s driver plans for 2021 when he faced a series of questions on the matter.

“There’s lots of speculation, there’s lots of good drivers around looking for seats. Dorilton bought the team and nothing’s changed,” Roberts said. “So I can’t say anymore than that.

Asked if he would confirm the drivers for 2021, Roberts replied: “I’m not going to say anything about either of our drivers, they are both doing a great job.

“There’s so much speculation around, I don’t want to inadvertently fuel it. We’re happy, let’s watch the rest of the market.”

“I’m just not going to talk about it,” he added when pressed on whether he would confirm Williams’ drivers for 2021. “Dorilton bought the team, nothing changed with regard to the drivers.

“There’s just so much speculation, rumours, it’s crazy. It’s silly season, after all. We’re not saying any more than that.”

Asked whether the team could end the rumours by ruling out a move for Perez, Roberts replied: “Possibly, but we just don’t want to say anything one way or another. We’re here focusing on our race weekend. We haven’t got any news.

“The decision will be made by the management committee and the board of Williams Formula 1, it’s a very normal situation but we have nothing to say on that matter tight now.”

Analysis - Williams’ lack of clarity leaves more questions than answers

Crash.net F1 Digitial Editor Lewis Larkam

Roberts’ attempt to avoid speculation about its 2021 driver line-up have, ironically, only fuelled the situation further, leaving more questions than answers about why Williams is refusing to confirm Russell or Latifi.

Reading through the lines, it appears the situation may have indeed change since Dorilton came onboard after the initial announcement back in July that Williams would be retaining a status quo.

Whether you like it or not, there is sense behind a move for Perez. Not only is he a safe pair of hands and an incredibly consistent performer, he would also provide the team with some welcome financial backing. 

With Russell effectively on loan from Mercedes for possibly just one more year, Perez would offer Williams some stability in the long-term as the team looks to capitalise on the incoming regulation overhaul in 2022 - something which might just appeal to the Mexican as a last landing spot to continue in F1.

Both Russell and Latifi both insisted they will remain with the team next year on Thursday, citing their respective contracts, but as Perez well knows himself, contracts can mean very little in F1...