“It was a wind-up”: Mercedes won’t wait until winter to name Hamilton’s team mate

2021 French Grand Prix

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Mercedes CEO Toto Wolff has clarified comments he made yesterday saying he was unlikely to select a team mate for Lewis Hamilton until December at the earliest.

Asked when he was likely to confirm who will partner Hamilton next year, assuming the seven-times world champion remains at the team, Wolff said: “Somewhere in the winter, I think, but I don’t know if it’s December or January or February.”

Prompted to confirm the delay until winter, Wolff said it was “highly possible because we have always been committed and loyal to the drivers and this is what we are doing.”

However Wolff told media in a subsequent interview today he does not intend to wait that long.

“It was a wind-up,” he said. “Because you get asked this question so often.”

Wolff faces a choice between Hamilton’s current team mate Valtteri Bottas and junior driver George Russell to drive for the team in the 2022 F1 season.

“So what’s the delay?” he continued. “Two drivers for one seat, two drivers that still can have a great career in Formula 1.

“I want to just see Valtteri’s full potential this year and continue to observe George driving for Williams and handling their situation.”

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2021 French Grand Prix

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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30 comments on ““It was a wind-up”: Mercedes won’t wait until winter to name Hamilton’s team mate”

  1. Sign a new guy. Can he be worse? or would Hamilton be afraid to be challenged in an equal car?

    #firstPost

    1. He did alright against Alonso and that was like 14 years ago.

      1. Yes, odd. On another thread they are claiming Ham is throwing Bottas under the bus whilst Bottas is struggling. So frightened off a new guy coming in, but throwing his current partner under the bus? Not sure of their logic; but it makes sense to them I suppose.

        1. Not quite – on the other thread, I found it very strange that he appeared to be saying Bottas’ comments that the car wasn’t right was a myth and he was happy to dis-prove it. You pointed out that apparently he was talking about Di Resta’s comments which explained why Hamilton said what he did. I hadn’t heard what Di Resta had said and it wasn’t mentioned in the article.

          Is Hamilton afraid of having a better team mate? No. Does he want one? Not so sure… I think he’s been happy for the last few years winning championships easily in the fastest car with a slow team mate. I’m pretty sure if Hamilton said “Hey Toto – I want to be challenged. Bring Russell in” it would happen immediately.

          1. I think at most it’ll be a constructor decision, they risk damage to their driver’s title chances with russel, but having 2 strong drivers should give them better strategy options.

      2. James Coulee
        20th June 2021, 2:44

        He matched him on points in very asymmetric circumstances, though I guess it still is meritful from a rookie.

        1. At least Plossl said “he did alright” and not “he moped the floor with him” which is the version we usually get

        2. @James Coulee
          Indeed very asymmetric. Alonso was clearly treated as the first driver and got gifted a second place in Australia (the very FIRST race) and a victory in Monaco!

    2. As a fan I say Bring Russell in, give us the show!

      But if I was Wolff my approach would be very different: if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it.

      1. Tommy Scragend
        20th June 2021, 9:44

        But it is broken. Bottas is performing poorly this season.

  2. Dave (@davewillisporter)
    19th June 2021, 21:21

    If Bottas is beaten by Perez tomorrow they’ll announce Russell at Silverstone.

    1. Exactly my thoughts. No matter what Toto says, i give to bottas 1-2 races to show something and then bye bye.

      1. I believe it is only bout the Manufacturers Championship at the end of the day, while all is well Merc will let Ham have a say, but if Merc see RB getting away and Bottas not close enough to Ham they will swap Bottas out.
        It is a no-brainer that Hamilton would prefer not to be challenged by a Team mate – pretty sure that applies to all drivers in all teams, as being challenged by your team mate is the only true measure and beating them looks good.

        Reply moderated
  3. Lol VB has had how many years already? And what new has he shown this year? GR to Mercedes, VB to Williams, 2022. Of course it is understandable that TW not deflate VB this early in the season, but really…

    1. Bottas surely knows he is on the way out already @robbie. Look at the way they threw him under the bus for the team’s pit error in Monaco. That is not how you treat someone you are keen to keep.

      1. @red-andy For sure. As well, Merc shouldn’t even want VB taking points away from LH at this point anyway. As with every season VB needed to stamp his authority on the situation from race one. He didn’t, and once again LH is their go-to. And obviously with Max such a threat they simply cannot have VB harming LH’s chances. VB cannot muster a sustained challenge for the life of him anyway. He’s toast.

  4. Great team leader antics, Toto, keep it up.

    1. @hunocsi Disrespecting their wingman is typical of Wolff. Can’t help himself it seems. It must be awful for Bottas, and surely part of the reason Rosberg had enough too, especially with Lauda who was even worse.

      1. @balue
        Actually, disrespecting the wingman is typical os Red Bull.
        Having a REAL wingman is typical of Red Bull, also. Definitely NOT mercedes.

  5. If bottas steps up this season. Merc win construction title. They hav no need to replace him just yet.

    1. I don’t see why russel wouldn’t give better constructor chances to mercedes, that’s the good thing of a mid-season swap, you don’t lose anything in the constructors.

  6. I have always believed that everyone at Mercedes calls Bottas the “Botty boy”.

    He is doing what they want him to do … when they tell him to do it.

    It’s a shame as he is a talented driver and deserves more than to be used this way.

    1. He rarely competes with Hamilton on pace – if he was at a slower team, he’d just be further back in the field. It’s not like if Mercedes treated him differently, he’d be winning Championships.

      1. I feel they have destroyed his will to win and turned him into a support act.
        Why should he bother to try and race?
        When he is winning they tell him to let Lewis go past for the good of the team.
        He has been crapped on from the day he joined :(

        1. Not necessarily, overall if you look at his performance across all seasons at mercedes he’s a barrichello-type driver, a number 2, not de facto, but driver’s performance when fighting for the title determines who will be number 1 and who will be number 2, some people say barrichello should’ve won 1 of schumacher’s titles, but he was nowhere near, and there’s been occasions example in 2017 when bottas was fighting for the win and hamilton wasn’t in one of his off weekends, where they told hamilton to let bottas past when hamilton was ahead on track but virtually behind, so they give team orders that make sense in general, and it can happen to give them in favour of the number 2 as well.

          Having said this I agree russia 2018 team order was ridiculous, they said they were worried about the title, but they had like 50 points margin, absolutely no chance for ferrari, also because at that point merc had a pace advantage too, so really bad decision there to not give the win back to bottas.

  7. Mercedes, get gasly in the 2nd car!

  8. Did he just say that Hamilton continues? Better announce it sooner than the 2020-2021 winter period.

  9. They may well think about bringing Russell in for Hamilton, if Lewis keeps getting outpaced by Verstappen.
    Clearly he lost his spark.

  10. Adam (@rocketpanda)
    20th June 2021, 12:22

    He needs to stop talking. There are more interviews with this guy than there are some of the drivers! Even on Sky they interview him every weekend, regardless of what Mercedes do. Let alone the amount of other websites having to comment on yet another thing that he’s randomly come out with. Obviously he’s only answering when he’s been asked to talk, but sometimes I wish the coverage – especially Sky – would remember there are other teams?

    1. Ahah, that’s a fun comment, wolff talking way too much!

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