Mercedes CEO Toto Wolff says the team is unlikely to decide whether to keep Valtteri Bottas in its driver line-up until December at the earliest.George Russell is the favourite to take Bottas’ seat if Mercedes chooses not to retain him for a sixth season next year.
Wolff said it is “highly possible” the team may not announce Hamilton’s team mate until “somewhere in the winter, I think.”
“But I don’t know if it’s December or January or February”, he said.
“We have always been committed and loyal to the drivers and this is what we are doing,” Wolff added.
Bottas lies sixth in the championship after the first six races of 2021. Asked what he must do to secure his future at the team, Wolff said “drive cars fast on Saturday and Sunday.”
“If he does that, then he puts himself in a very good situation in terms of next year.”
Mercedes has had an unchanged driver line-up for five years, longer than any other team. But Wolff said the potential benefit of introducing a fresh driver to the team is not a primary consideration.
“That is one of the components or one of the things that need to be considered, absolutely,” he said. “But it’s not the main driver.
“The main driver is consistent performance. Every team is going to judge that and especially in this difficult year, we need two drivers that are racing right there.
“If one is having an ‘off’ weekend or DNFs you need the other one to bring it home. And that’s why it’s always important that both are just on the max of their ability.”
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