Who should Mercedes hire as Hamilton’s team mate for 2022?

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Having signed Lewis Hamilton to a new contract for two more years, the next question Mercedes face is obvious: Who should be his team mate?

The identity of Hamilton’s next team mate has been a matter of intense speculation since his enforced absence from last years Sakhir Grand Prix gave Mercedes the opportunity to run junior driver George Russell alongside Valtteri Bottas – Hamilton’s team mate of the last five seasons.

Mercedes CEO Toto Wolff has indicated the seat will go to one of the pair, and its occupant will be decided in the summer.

Which of them most deserves a place at the team which has swept the last seven championships? And has that contentious clash between the pair at Imola had any bearing on the decision?

Valtteri Bottas

In pure performance terms, Mercedes have little reason to replace Bottas. Hamilton is the most successful Formula 1 driver of all time, and Bottas is often impressively close to him. He hasn’t finished runner-up in the championship the last two seasons by accident, and he has helped sustain Mercedes’ run of titles.

He is continuing to improve, as Wolff admitted recently, including over a race distance, which has previously been a weakness. He also doesn’t rock the boat, a quality which can’t be underestimated given the turbulent relationship between Hamilton and Bottas’ predecessor Nico Rosberg.

George Russell

The quality of the job Russell did on his sole appearance at Bahrain last year is hard to understate. Squeezed uncomfortably into a car which was not designed for his 1.85-metre frame, he qualified less than three-hundredths of a second behind Bottas, and took the lead off him at the start.

He continues to demonstrate remarkable speed at Williams, consistently dragging his car into Q2 and even Q3. With Hamilton unlikely to continue his career for much longer beyond his latest contract, Mercedes have to plan for the future, and Russell seems a better long-term bet than Bottas.

I say

George Russell, Mercedes, Bahrain International Circuit, 2020
Time to see what Russell can so with a full year in a Mercedes
Rightly or wrongly, whichever option Wolff chooses is bound to be seen as a reflection on Hamilton’s future position in the team. Bottas is the option which doesn’t rock the boat if Hamilton is planning many more years in the saddle; Russell is the pick for the future if Hamilton has indicated the 2023 season will be his last.

That may be overcomplicating things. Mercedes may simply feel that in his fifth season at the team they’ve seen the best Bottas has to give and are ready to take a chance on a driver who may be quicker. Russell’s extraordinary performance in Bahrain last year will surely embolden them to take that view.

Mercedes have already dismissed a few conventional assumptions about why they might not want to take him. A change won’t be blocked by Hamilton and they’re happy to have two drivers of the same nationality in the team.

Bottas may have finished runner-up the last two years in a row, but nine races in with a less competitive car and he’s fifth in the standings. Granted, that isn’t entirely his fault, but there have been some conspicuously poor performances. In the long run it always seemed to me Imola reflected less well on Bottas than Russell.

Given that, I’d slot Russell in for 2022 to coincide neatly with the introduction of new technical regulations.

You say

Who do you think Mercedes should pick to be Hamilton’s team mate in 2022? Cast your vote below and have your say in the comments.

Who should Mercedes hire to be Lewis Hamilton's team mate for 2022?

  • No opinion (2%)
  • Another driver (5%)
  • George Russell (83%)
  • Valtteri Bottas (11%)

Total Voters: 332

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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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136 comments on “Who should Mercedes hire as Hamilton’s team mate for 2022?”

  1. Keeping Bottas on is sheer cowardice.

    1. Only the 11 percent knew everything about the team feud that was going on after the incident at Imola which is still a racing incident months later. Most of us wanted the Sakhir substitute to be the team-mate to the knighted seven-time world champion. Also the reality is that Finland can’t do jack all anymore.

    2. keeping Bottas is losign George to a other team. Red Bull was interested and Max doesn’t care who is next to him.

  2. Russell is the logical choice. He probably should have been driving a Mercedes this season as Bottas has overstayed his welcome.

    In general, Bottas has never been anything more than an average driver by F1 standards. He was only slightly better than past-his-prime Massa at Williams and he landed into Mercedes by accident because Rosberg retired.

    Bottas is a decent enough qualifier, his average gap to Hamilton is only about a tenth. However, he’s a mediocre wheel-to-wheel racer and is beyond hopeless in the rain. He’s also poor at tyre management and rarely if never defies the odds. He’s just so uninspiring.

    This is his 5th year at Mercedes and he’s won a total of 9 races, which is a very sad return when you look at the cars he has been driving.

    I’m sure that Bottas is a nice guy and a fine driver for a team like Williams or Alfa Romeo, but he was always out of his depth at the sharp end of the field.

    1. For all criticism to bottas, you see that when people said to give albon and gasly more time in red bull, you can see he wasn’t as much out of his depth as them! I agree with what you said, just pointing out he was able to drive a top car better than some others.

      1. Stating the obvious here. They were up against a different team mate than Bottas. I think that should be enough.
        Albon and Gaslys previous records are far more impressive than Bottas. It’s pretty clear.
        That mercedes have flattered a certain british gentleman far too long.

        1. I never looked at it from this angle, but you are absolutely right. Albon, Gasly … all clearly better than Bottas. Lewis just nearly beating Bottas and once not even beating Rosberg. Says a lot about Lucky Lewis.

        2. What I’m saying is that bottas performed similarly at mercedes as at williams, while gasly and albon slumped, to the point that usually whoever was driving the toro rosso was fighting with the 2nd red bull at the time, being team mate of verstappen isn’t an excuse for all!

      2. Thailand and France weren’t “Let’s Get Them” material compared to Mexico. Probably Finland, Germany and Monaco aren’t either.

    2. Pretty spot on description of his career. Bottas usually wins by taking pole and leading the race from the off never through overtakes or clever strategy

      1. When you find yourself in the dominant car, this could potentially have delivered Bottas 4 WDC, like it did Vettel. Its just that he has the better Lewis in the other car.

  3. I imagine there will be a bit of Bottas kicking going on in this thread , but I won’t be part of it. He is quite a good driver and would be the lead in most other teams.
    I think Bottas will be swapped out for Russell, because I think Russell is a cut above he’s the real deal. He will be able to take the fight to the other top young drivers Leclerc, Verstappen and Norris as well as the established older drivers who will be around for a few years yet. Russell may end up being a bit of a challenge and a pain for Hamilton but nothing lasts for ever.
    Also I don’t think Merc would risk losing him to a rival team for the same reason.

    Bottas I would think will be moved to a Merc customer team, similar to the deal done with Alfa Romeo and Räikkönen.
    I think there is a good chance of Schumacher moving to replace Räikkönen next year as well.

    1. Well said.

    2. He is quite a good driver and would be the lead in most other teams.

      I must say, I disagree with this. While this is purely hypothetical, in the same car, I would back Verstappen, Leclerc, Sainz, Norris, Ricciardo, Russell, Alonso to beat him, and expect him to be on-par with the likes of Gasly, Perez and Vettel. And this is purely on pace. Bottas’ racecraft borders on laughably bad sometimes; he is such a pushover for anyone wanting to overtake him and struggles to sometimes make the simplest overtakes. The definition of mediocre in my eyes. I accept people may think I’m doing him a disservice, but I really do think that lowly of him.

      1. @mashiat I don’t disagree. He is a pushover racecraft wise. That said I do think he could help Williams by being the team leader there, but I agree he hasn’t really shown leadership qualities in general, but I allow that perhaps out from under LH’s shadow and with the new cars and a potentially ascending Williams, I think he could shine if he shows he has something to prove.

      2. I agree with you on his weakness at overtaking and defending and that those drivers would make him a number 2.

      3. At least an in-form ricciardo ofc, not this year’s so far.

    3. And that’s the key point, take Russell otherwise Toto risk losing him to rivals.

      1. problem is where would George go if Bottas stay… his contract with Toto keeps him with Mercedes for years.

  4. Ask fans what they want to see. I want to see George in there but I don’t think he should be there.

    1. I agree with your sentiment. Keep Bothas until Lewis retires and then pur Russel in.

    2. Bahrain might go outer again.

  5. For some reason, i failed to see any mention to a key factor in the equation: Russell’s career is managed by Wolff. And I always found a bit strange that a team manager is also part owner of another team (Aston Martin) and also manages the career of a driver in even another team. I just can´t avoid seeing the conflict of interests all over the place. Will he ever let Aston Martin’s drivers compete with Mercedes? His reaction to Russell’s crash with Bottas was telling (when he said that Russell should think before challenging a Mercedes on track or could end competing in Formula Clio).
    I think Russell is a great driver (albeit one who so far failed to grab a single point…), but the bashing on Bottas is just ridiculous, totally out of control, as if Bottas is a bum with no business in F1.
    I feel that Mercedes will give Russell the second car, tho.

    1. And I always found a bit strange that a team manager is also part owner of another team (Aston Martin)

      I think he is part owner of AML, the car company, not the racing team.

      Also when joining Mercedes he sold (after some time) his Williams shares.

      1. RandomMallard (@)
        10th July 2021, 14:32

        Yep this is right I believe. Wolff has a 4.8% stake in Aston Martin Lagonda, the car company. The F1 Team is a completely separate venture as far as I’m aware, with it essentially being that Aston Martin are the title sponsors of Racing Point, who remain a separate entity to Aston Martin Lagonda, and the F1 team is owned by AMR GP Ltd (formerly Racing Point UK Ltd), which operates the team independent of the AML manufacturer.

        And as Patrick points out below, apparently Wolff resigned as Bottas’ manager after Bottas joined Merc, so it may well be that he would do the same with Russell as well.

    2. Bothas was managed by Toto. When Bothas joine Mercedes Toto recused himself as Bothas manager to avoid any conflict of interest. I imagine he would do the same with Russel.

    3. Russell grabbed 2 points in the 2020 Sakhir GP, standing in for Hamilton at Mercedes.
      A race he should have won but for a blunder of the Mercedes pit crew and a blown tire.

      1. Actually 3, as he also set fastest lap in Sakhir.

    4. Failed to grab a single point at williams, but then would’ve taken the maximum points on a mercedes if not for horrid luck.

  6. Everything is depend upon what Lewis wants. Even if Toto knew that Lewis is going to retire in the next two years they just can’t pick Russel and ruin Lewis mood. If Lewis can pick which engine setup for the race, for sure he had a big say about who’s going to be the second driver.

    Merc can poach Norris, Russel or even Sainz later.

  7. In the last few years, there seems to have been a lot of ‘Bottas-kicking’ from fans, and even from official journalists. I strongly condemn this, as I believe Valtteri Bottas is a very good driver, and ‘Bottas-kicking’ is mainly done by those who don’t appreciate just how difficult it is to be on the pace of Lewis Hamilton, possibly the greatest driver of all time. Valtteri is closer to Hamilton’s pace than Perez is to Verstappen, but Perez seems, for some reason, to be much more popular with fans. I think Bottas is the ideal number two driver, and he looks far worse than he is because he is up against Lewis Hamilton.
    Having said that, I voted for George Russell. I am going to go ahead and sat that Verstappen is now a better driver than Hamilton, while the Red Bull is also slightly better than the Mercedes. Hamilton is still one of the best on the grid, so is still taking the fight to Verstappen, but I think his skills are now just beginning to decline slightly, and at the end of 2023 he will retire. Now Bottas is very good, but to beat Verstappen, he would need to be an absolute elite, and he isn’t quite at that level. When Hamilton retires, and maybe even before that, Mercedes need a driver strong enough to challenge Verstappen, and Bottas isn’t that driver. (However, someone like Alfa Romeo or Williams would be crazy not to snatch up Bottas if he loses his Mercedes drive; he would be fantastic for a lesser team). It is difficult to know if Russell is that driver as he has never had a representative teammate (Kubica was not the same driver as he had been ten years previous, while Latifi has never had another teammate). But there’s no doubting that he did an incredible job at Sakhir, and when we ride onboard with him in Williams, there is a sense that he is getting the absolute maximum out of the car (a qualifying lap he did at Paul Ricard was a perfect example of this, for me). Currently, the four stars of the future are Verstappen, Leclerc, Norris and Russell (maybe Sainz too) and Russell is generally rated slightly worse than the first three. But he did beat Norris in F2, and has never had a chance to fully prove himself. I honestly think he is almost as good as Hamilton right now, and in the next few years, with Hamilton declining and Russell still improving, he could become the stronger driver. If the Mercedes was the dominant car again in 2023, my money would be on Russell over Hamilton. This could be Mercedes’ last chance to promote Russell and they should take it. Not because Bottas is a bad driver, but because Russell is probably an outstanding driver.

    1. @f1frog

      Perez may be comparatively slower in qualifying, but his race pace & tyre management seem to be better. Perez’ main weakness is his inconsistency right now.

    2. I agree. People love criticizing Bottas, but he hasn’t done as bad this season as some say. They are very quick to judge him for his poor performances at Imola and Baku, but never give him credit when manages to beat Hamilton, like when he comfortably outqualified him at Monaco. Then it’s the car and Bottas just got lucky.
      Personally, I think Bottas should go. Russell is younger and faster than him, so he’s the logical choice. But still, it wouldn’t surprise me if he never drives for Mercedes.

    3. Disagree with hamilton being the greatest of all times, one gets a super car for all his career, gets a record of wins etc. and is suddenly the greatest driver? You can’t make this argument for hamilton vs schumacher and at the same time you can’t make it for schumacher vs clark or fangio or ascari.

      I think it’s quite safe to say he’s a top 10 of all times and quite a complete driver at his best, which isn’t this year from what I saw.

      Agree verstappen so far and red bull were better\slightly better than hamilton and merc this year, and that these are prob the first signs of decline for hamilton.

      @srdjan, I gave bottas credit for beating hamilton in monaco, but he was abysmal too many races, like you said baku and imola are rated 2\10 for bottas.

      1. 2\10 in my opinion ofc, really horrible.

    4. @f1frog I can go along with much of what you have said except for the subtlety of Perez vs VB. Let’s not forget Perez has only had this season so far in a top car, new to the team, whereas I think why VB gets the harassment he does from us keyboard warriors is because he has had 4+ seasons in the WCC car and has only been an obedient number 2 with it. I far prefer the NR’s of the world who while seeming to have a natural lacking of a tenth or two to LH, still managed a WDC, and managed to give him a much harder time which was much more entralling. To me it is not enthralling when there is a number two who has so little racecraft and provides so little excitement to the equation.

  8. It has to be George. Valtteri has done a good job, but Mercedes now have to compete with Red Bull who have two excellent drivers and what is looking like the best engine on the grid. If Valtteri could have done more then he should have done more by now. I just can’t see Valtteri being significantly better than he currently is. George looked like he was going to win that race when he drove for Mercedes, and but for a blunder, he would have. I’m of the opinion the best artists have the best brushes, the best guitarists have the best guitars. Likewise it makes sense for the best F1 teams to have the best drivers. Maybe having someone less than the best is acceptable for a lesser F1 team, but when you drive for Mercedes or Red Bull or Ferrari (and one could argue McLaren and AlphaTauri as well) then you have to perform at a level commensurate with that status. Sorry Valtteri, but I think Toto should employ George.

  9. One other question is if Russell doesn’t go to Mercedes, should he stay at Williams? And if not, where? I think George has been very patient for the last three seasons in a dog of a car proving himself. There must be a point where he says enough is enough, I want a car under me in which I can regularly score points.

    1. ian dearing
      10th July 2021, 15:08

      Which could be next year at Williams. Plenty of money, experience and the back end of a Mercedes going into the team next year.

  10. Before this season, I thought that Bottas might prove to be the better choice, but so far I think that Russell is making a better case for himself. He’s finally got a car that is good enough to have him fight other cars, like Alonso in Austria, where he did very well against one of the best drivers. He seems good enough at car-to-car racing to already be a step up in that department compared to Bottas, with way more potential to improve.

    Russell is really good in qualifying, which is also Bottas’ strength. So it’s likely that Russell will be about equally good in that department. Bottas has poor tyre management and performance in low grip situations, so I think that Russell would be a significant step up on that front. Both seem too self-deprecating for my liking and could probably benefit from being more demanding and more confident.

    All in all, Russell seems to be a step up even now, with way more potential to grow. If Russell does turn out to underperform at the highest level, it’s better for Mercedes to learn that soon, so they can line up another rookie or poach an experienced driver, without being limited to very few options, like with Bottas, when Rosberg suddenly quit.

    1. I think Bottas has stepped up this season.
      But so did Russell (on Sundays).

      I would go for Russell, as nobody even knows if Hamilton will sit out his contract until 2023 (he mentioned that he will stop as soon as he can’t find the 100% motivation).

      1. Bottas stepped up this season? Not what I saw at all, don’t think it’s his best season at mercedes, that was either the first or the 2nd, can’t remember well.

  11. Saying that Bottas is a second rate driver is the same thing as saying Albon, Gasley and Perez are second rate drivers… you have got to remember that of all the people in the world, these are the ones that made it to the top 20 drivers.

    Bottas could easily be the leading driver at several other teams, but the fact remains that both Max and Lewis are in their own league….

    Russell – it only seems a matter of time before he is recuited by Mercedes, weather it be in 2022, 2023 or 2024.

    By then – who can tell what teams will be dominating F1?

  12. Kimi.


    1. Any driver shouldn’t spray him with a lot of small pieces of junk debris.

  13. He hasn’t finished runner-up in the championship the last two seasons by accident

    But as he finished up more often than not behind Verstappen in 2020 it certainly wasn’t only skill, but rather DNF/bad luck by his opponent.

    1. Not to mention the car, he had both speed and reliability in hand over red bull and almost failed anyway. Honestly barely beating verstappen in 2020 IS a failure in my eyes.

  14. Russell. I just hope Bottas gets to stay in F1. A lot of people just have short memory.

  15. Mercedes SHOULD being Russell in. BUT they’ll probably keep the door mat.

  16. George Russell.

    Hamilton is the most successful Formula 1 driver of all time, and Bottas is often impressively close to him. He hasn’t finished runner-up in the championship the last two seasons by accident,

    I think that says a lot about both drivers and what a massive factor the Mercedes is in both their success. If on one hand Hamilton is the MSF1D, and Bottas (who most fans here think is one of the least exciting drivers of recent times) is is so close to him.. well its 60% down to the Mercedes car.

    I’m not trying to kick Bottas, just want the most celebrated racing championship to be more dependent on drivers.

    1. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
      10th July 2021, 12:07

      Only 60%?

    2. ian dearing
      10th July 2021, 12:34

      It is dependant on drivers. The best drivers get the best cars as they can extract the most from a car, whether its a world beater or a dog.
      And put anyone in that car next to Hamilton, and unless they are matching him and occasionally beating him, most fans on here will be writing them off. As they have with Bottas. As they will with Russell if he doesn’t match Hamilton in a short space of time.

      1. No, not the same degree as Max is beating his team mates. Not even close. I think we can say by now that Lewis is not that good (one of the greats, but certainly not the goat). His car flattered him tremendously.

        1. Davethechicken
          11th July 2021, 9:21

          Mayrton. Max has had generally had poor teammates. Sure Gasly has improv d now, Albon, really was a strange swap given his only marginally decent results for TR.
          Riccardo the exception, the record showing he out scored Max for points, wins and poles in their time as teammates.Sainz was also good Max marginally ahead of Carlos in their time at TR.
          Perez was without a drive, being ditched by RP for the downtrodden Vettel.
          I like Seb, but he obviously isn’t the force he once was. For RP to replace Perez for Seb says all you need to know on how they rated Perez for their future. Last years RP was a very fine car, and they clearly have ambitions they did not see Sergio being able to deliver.

          1. Davethechicken Not sure if you’ve added up the points, wins, and poles for Max vs DR over their entire time together, I haven’t, and perhaps that does make your assertion correct about DR leading in those stats. But I think it is notable to also point out that after Max burned himself with his mistake at Monaco in 2018 it was like a switch flicked within him and he turned over a new leaf, and became a driver much more thoughtful in his racing decisions, and the driver he is to this day.

            In 2018 Max came 4th in the WDC (249 points) just 2 points behind KR (Ferrari) who had 251, and he beat VB (Mercedes) who had 247, and that year DR had 170.

            And I disagree about your assertion about what they thought of SP at AM. He still had 2 years on his contract for a reason, and from what Stroll Sr. said at the time it was Seb’s Championship experience that they sought, and only made that move because Ferrari dumped him surprisingly and unceremoniously. I would not at all be surprised if SP would have been doing better this year at AM than SV has, just out of the sheer continuity of it, but of course it is what it is and SV should sort himself there yet. It broke their hearts a little to let SP go.

            Meanwhile, RBR has hired him for a reason, that being he is a good driver, and there is much yet to see from him as he gets more and more time with the best car he has had in F1 which has him having his best season so far too. And a better one than Seb is having.

  17. RocketTankski
    10th July 2021, 10:35

    Ultimately this was all Rosberg’s doing. Talk about playing the long game!

    1. Lol true. He was signed to be at Merc at least through 2018. That the driver pairing was ‘too turbulent’ is rhetoric.

  18. Bottas and Russel in Williams and Latifi to Merc ;).

    No in all seriousness it is time for Russel to get that seat. I still want Bottas to remain in top team but it seems that it will be Williams or nothing.

  19. Alonso! 😜

    1. I’ll second that!

  20. GR. No brainer. VB back to Williams.

    1. @robbie Satisfyingly succinct.

  21. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
    10th July 2021, 11:05

    One thing I notice is that people always pay closer attention to drivers in the top teams than those further back. Russell gets talked about a lot, but we don’t actually see as much from him. Bottas got a huge amount of criticism for his race starts last year when he had 3 – 4 where he lost a few places at the start. But only a few now mention that race starts is a clear weakness for Russell. The criticism would go through the roof if he had the number of awful race starts he’s had at williams – but at Mercedes. Kubica was ahead of him at the end of lap 1 in over half the races in his first season. He improved a bit, but even this year, at least a 3rd of his starts have lost multiple positions almost instantly. This isn’t to do with the car, but more the launch and preparation lap. If his starts had been the same as they were at Mercedes this year, he really could cost himself somewhat. I expect his recovery drives would be stronger than Bottas, but still, his starts so often cost him.

    Just a recent example, though his last race was very good – he lost 4 places in the first few corners. This almost certainly lost him a points finish. Then go back the France. He started 14th and by the end of the 1st lap, he fell to 18th – 3 places behind Latifi. It then took him nearly 15 laps to get back ahead of his team mate. His qualifying statistics of always out qualifying his team mate may look good, but to be realistic, I’d say a comfortable 30% of the time when lap 2 begins, he’s behind them (not that he doesn’t recover later on though) His race pace may be good, but many of his results in his career probably could have been higher had it not been for his starts. He probably is weaker than any other driver in this area, but I’m surprised so few notice it. As I said, if Bottas has a bad start and loses a couple of places, that is often enough for quite a few people to say he’s rubbish and he should lose his seat.

    I also think that Russell isn’t as good in qualifying as he looks. The williams is getting better this year, but Latifi is not a very good benchmark – and neither was Kubica. The thing that makes me think he isn’t a top qualifier is that Latifi is closer to him on a Saturday than Perez is to Verstappen when you average out their qualifying times. If we do rate him anywhere near Verstappen and Hamilton on qualifying pace, then Perez is as bad as Latifi, or Latifi is nowhere near as bad as people think he is. I personally think Latifi is probably the worst on the grid, aside from Mazepin in qualifying, so I don’t think these statistics lie. I think Russell is a good but not great qualifier, and actually think Bottas will have a bit of an advantage over him as Bottas is regularly very close to Hamilton in this area.

    Race pace, I think Russell will initially be a bit better than Bottas (i say a bit as it will be a new environment for him) But in time, I think he will be somewhat better. But that isn’t to say some of his issues that have been there for years won’t remain.

    I think many are just desperate to see a driver that is closer to Hamilton. I myself don’t think Russell has yet shown enough to show he’s the sort of driver that could take Hamilton’s spot as an extremely strong team leader. Initially I think he would only be a slight improvement over Bottas, and that is only really in race pace IMO. He has made a couple of race ending mistakes though in the past couple of years – which would generally mean much more in a top team than the current WIlliams. Bottas gets non stop criticism for a race where he underperforms (though Baku was terrible), but still gets a points finish, so I don’t think Russel’s race in Imola (both this year and the last) should be forgotten as they were effectively worse.

    Other than 1 example this year of Bottas not being very willing, he’s usually a very good team player, and the team and Hamilton have said this plenty of times.

    I think it is more likely than not that Russell will get the seat, but only just. Bottas isn’t as bad as people think, and I don’t think Russell is quite at the level many think either. As Williams is improving, I don’t think it would hurt things to stay as they are for another year actually as I don’t think it will be a clear night and day difference if Russell joins Mercedes. Williams likely will now be at the level he can prove himself more, and given his reputation, i expected him to be a bit better than he has been this year.

    All this will look like I rate Bottas higher than Russell. While I do in certain areas, I do think Russell is slightly better overall, and certainly will be in time. But with Bottas being used to the team, I’m not sure there is a strong enough reason to make it 100% certain that Russell will take Bottas’s place which many think.

    1. @thegianthogweed All you’ve done is argued why Russell shouldn’t be staying another year at Williams. You agree he’s (slightly?) better than Bottas overall but needs to improve in certain areas. Put bluntly, he’s not going to develop any further stuck at the back of the grid with Williams. He needs to switch to a better car and a team with more resources. That should be obvious to Mercedes too.

    2. The thing is bottas has horrible race pace in comparison to russel and he only barely beat him in qualifying when they met with the same car, so russel seems superior in both metrics.

      1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
        10th July 2021, 21:22

        This is where I think people praise Russell too much and the opposite for Bottas. Bottas’s race pace is generally one of his weaker areas – but not always. And he is up against the very best. Williams is improving this year and I don’t think Latifi is a good benchmark surely?

        It is silly to compare one instance with Bottas and Russell paired up. 1 because it is just a single occasion, 2, it was the shortest track – by far used for just this single occation (which makes lap times closer) and 3, if you do look at this single occasion and base so much from it, then you can look at 1 race this year such as Monaco and say that because if this, it clearly shows Bottas is better than Hamilton and Russell. 1 race is no where near enough evidence. All that showed is that Russell was very capable of adapting quickly.

        Looking at Bottas when he was in the midfield at Williams, his race pace did not look bad at all. So few people remember this. He often made 1 stops work and quite often managed to beat stronger teams cars. Canada 2016 for example. And if you go back a year or two for Russell, his race pace wasn’t that good compared to qualifying. So looking back over the long term, I don’t think you can confirm Bottas has “horrible” race pace compared to Russell.

        1. Thanks for the thorough look at this @thegianthogweed.

          I agree with you that it is hard to tell for us whether Russel would be an improvement on Bottas (mostly for the race). And it could well be just too early to tell. With Williams having been too far back to be able to race much with anyone this is the first year he can actually show it. And in the same line, it is giving Bottas a realitycheck / wake up call that the Mercedes is languishing in the middle of the Top 10 at times this year as well.

          If Williams do improve in the following months, and it looks like they might be able to make another step next year, I think it would be good for Russel to be able to show he can lead the team and stand his own when they can regularly fight with the likes of Alpha Tauri, Alfa Romeo, Alpine, AM and even with McLaren and Ferrari, show us that he can actually race very well.

          Bottas will help make sure that they have 2 drivers at Mercedes who can get on with things immediately, not too much stress and struggle getting into the team and finding a new way to work together. I think that might well be the way Mercedes go about it for 2022, before signing a long term Hamilton follow up from 2023 onwards.

  22. petebaldwin (@)
    10th July 2021, 11:26

    Mercedes need to start planning for the post-Hamilton era so they should get Russell in the car as he will be the one to lead the team going forward. Trying to score a point in a slow car is fine but I think he’s learned everything he’s going to at Williams. He needs to start getting used to the pressure of driving at the front of the grid.

  23. Let’s be honest… this is more of a vote of who you’d like to see in the Merc, rather than who Merc should hire… right?

    The absolute truth is Merc’s need to balance points, rivalry & their desire to have Lewis claim his 8th world drivers title. It will forever cement both Lewis’ & Merc’s names in history for ever much the same way as Micheal & Ferrari. For this Bottas is definitely the wing man you want for him

    If the constructors title is seen as more important to them then Russel is the man to go with as I think he would do a better job for them, but at the expense of taking points from Lewis

    1. The constructors title is the only one that matters. Mercedes couldnt care less who is driving. They already got 8 wins. If they do not replace Bottas next year, it is simply mismanagement. They are then letting the short term goal interfere with the long term. Behavior that is usually reserved for American companies.

  24. Russell. This shouldn’t even be a debate. His performance at Sakhir clearly demonstrated he’s faster than Bottas and, even more importantly, able to race at a much higher level. Whether he’s as good as Lewis or Max, only a drive in a top team will show. But more to the point, Mercedes need to prove to young drivers that racing talent, dedication and commitment (including to driving for the team in the future) can be rewarded. If Russell hasn’t proven his worth to Mercedes, who will?! However harsh an environment Red Bull may be, nobody can say that they don’t give their young drivers a chance to compete in the top team, sink or swim. I also agree that the ‘managed by Toto’ angle is awkward. If Russell isn’t promoted to Mercedes for 2022, Russell needs to break this tie because it will have become a brake on his career. He could have moved up the grid already with other teams besides Mercedes and Williams.

    1. Completely agree, I never criticised red bull program, they give their drivers chances and if anything I thought they were too slow with demoting gasly and especially albon, a driver shouldn’t need a full season to get to terms with a car, a seat in a top team is serious business.

      1. Exactly, you would think training is over at this level. Or otherwise just spend some more time in F2 or 3. There are already enough mediocre drivers or ones that should have retired or ones that shouldnt be there at all in the current line up! Hardly the pinnacle of motorsport this way.. what we need is a field with the level of Max, Lando, Leclerc, Lewis and Russell. All current others are for these 5 to have some entourage. Thats ridiculous at this level of motorsport.

    2. Mercedes does nothing in comparison.

  25. Adam (@rocketpanda)
    10th July 2021, 12:47

    Personally I voted for another driver as I think that’d just cause utter chaos.

    Realistically though they’ll pick Bottas. He’s fast but not fast enough to disrupt Hamilton and compliant enough to follow instructions to benefit the lead car even if it undermines him. We’re all assuming Russell would be closer to Hamilton than Bottas but admittedly that’s an unknown – but assuming he is, or hypothetically faster, he’s going to cause drama. The Mercedes could end up taking more points off each other than maximising their gain and Wolff strikes me as a man that only cares about the bottom line.

    Picking Russell or anyone else would be daring but I kinda expect another 1 year deal for Bottas.

    1. @rocketpanda I suspect ‘maximizing gain’ explains why this hasn’t already happened. But they must be considering Russell. So Mercedes seem stuck in one of those classic ‘indecisive’ moments we all face in life. And as the Oracle in the Matrix says, the decision has already been made. Sometimes the delay in acting is just about understanding your decision… I kind of feel Mercedes have decided on Russell but although their ‘loyalty’ talk and boosting of Bottas over the years (combined with some painful ‘wing man’ putdowns) has blinded them from realizing they need to move on, start 2022 with a new driver. As Keith says in his opinion, it’s clearly the ideal moment to try something new – new regulations, new car, new driver, even a new dynamic for Hamilton.

    2. @rocketpanda For me it is exactly because Wolff needs to maximize their gain and because he cares about the bottom line that he needs someone to help get them back to 1-2s on the grid rather than 2-4s. They are losing the WCC not just the WDC when they have stiff competition like they are getting from Max, and like SP can already provide against VB.

      This is the pinnacle of F1 and he has LH and at some point surely must trust that he can stand in his own two feet and doesn’t need a compliant boot locker to succeed. What Wolff needs is not only a successor to LH, but a better driver than VB in order to stave off the stiff competition they are finally getting from RBR. If he just coddles LH out of fear of someone taking points from him, which puts no faith in LH by those suggesting it, he’ll risk continuing losing the WCC, not just the WDC. TW’s main job is to be the Mercedes team principal not LH’s principal.

      1. Lol should be ‘boot licker’ …

  26. I think Valteri is a good and balanced team mate for Hamilton who works as a good number 2 driver. We saw fireworks many times when Rosberg was in the team and caused friction within the team

    George is a good driver with strong potential and whilst he deserves better than the current Williams car, who knows what 2022 will bring for them. He over performs in the car at the moment and fighting for positions that are well above the cars level. I have no doubt he is a future champion, but, I don’t think he’ll race next to Hamilton.

  27. Although it wouldn’t be the first case, it’s still very unusual to bring in even an affiliated driver from the low end of the grid. Mercedes didn’t do it with Pascal Wehrlein from Manor for 2017, but obviously he had only one season under his belt, Russell is going to have three. Esteban Ocon had the chance to walk the more traditional path, from the Mercedes powered backmarker Manor went to drive for midfield Force India where he measured up well against the estabilished Sergio Perez, he seemed to be ready to drive for Mercedes at the end of 2018. George Russell unfortunately never had the chance to drive for a midfield team, and beating an unfortunately hopeless Kubica and a not too convincing Latifi leaves Russell as a still more or less unknown quantity (for me at least). Mercedes should have all the data they need to evaluate Russell, and his saturday speed seems to be there, but missing out a midfield seat against a strong teammate for at least one season might really hurt his career. Considering how difficult it proves for Perez, Ricciardo, Sainz and Vettel to adjust to a new car, it obviously shines good light on Russell how well he performed during his Mercedes one-off last year, even though he regularily drives the Mercedes on tests. He shouldn’t be wasted at Williams for a fourth season, and risking to lose him to an outside team also not an option for Mercedes, not that are available seats anywhere else.

    I used to think that Bottas’ luck and curse is both his speed. He is quick enough to make sure the constructors title stays at Stuttgart, but not quick enough to seriously challenge Hamilton in the long run. He has his days and circuits like Spielberg or Sochi, and might be getting the closest to Hamilton on a saturday, and shows signs of improvement year by year, but Hamilton still finds room for raising his game, so getting this close to an all-time great is a really decent performance from Bottas. I thought that the decision might come towards or at the end of the season, and there’s only one scenario where Bottas loses his seat, if Mercedes fails to defend the constructors title, while Hamilton snatches the drivers somehow. Every other option could work in Bottas’ favour. A summer decision indicates that Mercedes is considering its options, regardless of the constructors title, thinks about the regulation change and the future.

    If Mercedes is going for a Hamilton-Russell pair, they have to consider the damage one might do to the other’s reputation. Hamilton might destroy a promising career of a youngster like Alonso used to wipe the floor with his younger teammates, which would also ruin the post-Hamilton plans for Mercedes to have Russell as their next big gun for a decade. On the other hand Russell could harm Hamilton’s legend which could result in a Rosberg-like rivalry between the two, something Mercedes might want to avoid. For me neither Bottas, nor Russell seems to be a perfectly ideal choice for next year, but seeing how a similar Leclerc-Ferrari marriage took shape and played out really well, and will continue for many more years, I would say maybe this is the time to take some risk and hand Russell a chance to see if he can take it.

    1. @andrewt After 2018 I was sure that Russell will be driving in a top team within a few years. You have some great points about Wehrlein and Ocon. Still Russell was the best one of them in term of results in junior formulas. It would be a huge hit for Mercedes if their best junior would not be able to move to the main team. Just like it was with Ferrari a few years back before Bianchi and Leclerc.

      Russell is the most promising young talent from Mercedes since Schumacher and it would be a disgrace he can’t race for them. So Russell WC in Ferrari 2025 ;)

      1. @qeki Agreed, Mercedes obviously runs its young driver programme to land their potential future stars one day, and maybe that day seemed to be too early when they needed a stop-gap solution back in 2017, but now might be the time. They’ve observed Russell carving his way through the junior series, driving for a backmarker team for three seasons, and jumping into a top car for a single weekend, all three of these stages seems to be in order. I think that junior series success counts only until rookies are signing their first F1 contract, there’s not much else a team can evaluate about them, and both Wehrlein, Ocon and Russell jumped that level easily. Multiple years into F1, signing their next contract, moving to a different team, and junior series results seem less and less important (just ask Hülkenberg, Vandoorne or Frijns…), the only question is, what Mercedes’ mathematical-analytical model predicts for Russell based on his car-weighed performance and personal development curve throughout the last three seasons, and compare that with Bottas.

  28. As a fan you would probably want them to go with George, But as a team boss who wants to win championships it’s perhaps better to stick with Bottas.

    If George comes in & is able to match & beat Hamilton your risking an Alonso/Hamilton McLaren 2007/ Mansell/Piquet Williams 1986 situation, Probably not in terms of drivers falling out but in terms of a clear #1 from a rival team (Verstappen for instance) taking a championship you should have won because your 2 drivers were taking points off each other.

    That is the dilemma a team boss has to look at which fans of course don’t really care about.

    1. gt-racer True but it does seem that many fans, around here at least, are happy to go along with teams having a clear 1 and 2, just as you suggest a team boss would prefer.

      I think it really depends on a lot of things. We had Senna/Prost and LH/NR with viscous rivalries, to the fans delight I would like to think, locking out the front row every race. Does the TP really care who wins the WDC when definitely one of them is going to, all the while shutting out the next best team from the larger points each race, and thus securing the WCC and the WDC handily?

      If George comes in and is able to match and beat LH, isn’t that a coup for TW? Doesn’t that increase his odds of shutting out Max and SP, assuming they’ll continue to be their main competitor?

      But yeah, it can really come down to what the competition is doing. Eg. against MS/Ferrari who imho have never been more skewed to one driver before or since, the other teams had no choice but to ‘order’ or designate a number one driver as soon into the season as possible without completely dejecting the number two if possible, for fear of MS running away with it. Juxtaposed with Ferrari now, who aren’t vying for the titles, and there isn’t a clear number one between CL and CSjr, whereas they felt the need to designate SV such, when CL joined the team and only LH was the target.

      For sure it is a dilemma for the TP, and with Max being the natural number one at RBR through his sheer talent, TW does not need someone robbing points from LH, and he can always order it thus, and at the same time hope that GR can help in the WCC fight, for VB certainly is not doing that. I remind everyone as I have done several times, TW had re-signed NR for two more seasons of that rivalry through 2018. I think, and hope TW still gets that he is Mercedes team principal not LH’s and that at some point he needs to bolster his WCC chances while helping LH more than VB can. I’d like to think ideally TW would rather be locking out the front row on a regular basis, and they’ll not do that with Max there. Nor with VB in his current seat.

      1. @robbie

        I remind everyone as I have done several times, TW had re-signed NR for two more seasons of that rivalry through 2018.

        True, But at that point while they weren’t always happy with how the on-track rivalry played out they were happy to stick with that combo as they still felt they had a package that was good enough compared to the competition that there 2 drivers fighting each other wasn’t a danger in terms of costing them the championship.

        With stiffer competition from Red Bull now & the unknown going into the 2022 regulation change they will be looking at things a lot differently to what they were when they had Hamilton & Rosberg.

        I think the decision they end up making may reveal a bit about how competitive they think they are likely to be next year. If they go with George it’s a sign they are fairly confident, If they stick with Bottas I think it may be a sign they are less sure of where there 2022 package is.

        1. @gt-racer Thanks for that. A good and an interesting point.

        2. @gt-racer

          You can just as easily argue the opposite: that sticking with Bottas indicates that they’re confident in their 2022 car, so the nr 2 car doesn’t have to be faster than Bottas can manage, to take points off Max.

  29. Verstappen, If only to solve the ‘ is it the car or is it the driver’ discussion over here (It WOULD be interesting!). But I’m guessing they’ll go for GR. LH can show him the ropes for two years, and then he should be ready to challenge for the title.

    1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      10th July 2021, 15:48

      It won’t settle it. The Red Bull clearly suits Verstappen which is why he’s at least half a second quicker than all 3 drivers who’ve driven that car. The Mercedes may suit Lewis more than Max or vice versa.

    2. Yes Verstappen. As there’s a say: when you can’t beat your rival might as well get him into your team. Similar thing happened to MotoGP before whereby Lorenzo was hired to form the “dream” Honda championship team, haha.

  30. Lopes da Silva
    10th July 2021, 14:12

    Team bosses shouldn’t have to look for the Drivers Championship. They should have to look only for the Constructors Championship.

  31. I think this is as simple as they cannot leave Russel at Williams forever. His development there will plateau. And so will his patience.

    1. Absolutely. It’s plain that Russell will join Mercedes at some point but it has to be soon – if next year is not possible for some reason then no later than ’23.

  32. My heart says Bottas, but my head says Russell.

    My heart would like to see loyalty rewarded, and Bottas has been loyal to the team, fulfilling his role as rear gunner, and picker-up of left-over points. No real grumbling, just doing the job (and doing it well), despite non-committal repeated single-year contracts, and those Valtteri, it’s James calls.

    But my head says that Mercedes needs to play the long game. Russell is eight years younger than Bottas, and might form a nucleus to continue building the team around for much longer that Bottas, once Hamilton is gone.

    In the end, I believe that they should go with Russell, and provide Bottas a decent soft landing somewhere else.

    1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      10th July 2021, 15:46

      I don’t think Mercedes owe anything to Bottas. He’s had the chance to race with the best team (possibly of all time) against the best driver. He’s won podiums, races, poles, and championships with the exception of the WDC and known more success than 99.9% of drivers. He’s made tons of money and is all set for life.

      He’s lucky that Hulkenberg didn’t end up in his spot.

      1. @freelittlebirds I agree. He’s had more than enough time in the WCC car to show more than he has.

      2. Yes, hulkenberg could’ve certainly done what bottas did at merc, and I see a lot of criticism to hulk too, so bottas can’t be that good either.

  33. If Bottas keeps finishing On the podium ahead of Perez then I think he stays 1 more years
    for the new regulations.

    Russell at Williams 1 more year before the move to Merc in 2023.

    2024-25 if Ham hits 8, then I expect Merc line up to be Russell and Norris

  34. I’m a Bottas fan, it’s BECAUSE of that that I voted Russel.

    Bottas has hit his ceiling at Mercedes. He’s young enough to still impress elsewhere and a new start could be good for him.

    Blocking Russell’s progress is good for nobody.

    1. @gongtong I honestly think he could do great back at Williams. He’s been there so knows a lot of them. They want to ascend under their new ownership. The cars will be much more driver vs driver and so much less encumbered by dirty air. I think as a number one there he could immediately propel them to strong mid-field and really shine on race weekends. He’ll have something to prove.

    2. I think that he’d enjoy himself much more in rallying. He doesn’t seem to enjoy close racing, but does enjoy the challenge of setting a good pace.

  35. Mercedes needs a driver whose race pace is closer to Lewis. In every race, Bottas is allowing one, sometimes more, cars to split the Mercedes duo, which removes some strategy options. I really like Bottas, but time to go. Russel is probably the obvious choice.

  36. Verstappen.

    Mercedes hiring him eliminates the threat from Red Bull almost completely, and is obviously the absolute best move Mercedes can do to assure winning.

    Hamilton has also said how much he loves tight competition so it’s a win-win situation for all.

    1. + the fans and TV ratings will love it too. It’s a no-brainer.

      1. Lol that would be stellar, but methinks no amount of money would draw Max from the winning team. Money he’s got and he’ll get a shed load yet in his career. That’s a given. It’s Championships that aren’t a given. Of course that shouldn’t stop TW from asking, but of course most seem to think they shouldn’t even challenge LH with GR let alone Max lol.

        1. I very much doubt Verstappen would say no to a Mercedes contract @robbie. Gambling on a new engine ‘manufacturer’ at Red Bull is one thing, the other is that Red Bull have messed up their aero for the last years and only thanks to stable format now have managed to sort it out. With a new format it’s definitely advantage Mercedes. Also, to beat Hamilton at his own team would cement his place in history.

          1. @balue Oh I thought you were being tongue in cheek. No I think Max is very confident in the Honda pu while they evolve themselves into being able to make their own come 2025. I see no reason why a new format is ‘definitely’ advantage Mercedes, and while I have no doubt Max would not fear having LH as a teammate, there is no way Mercedes is going to go after Max and try to put him beside LH. And imho there is no way Max is leaving his family at RBR to go to ‘LH land’ and his family. Even just more basic than that, certainly I’ve been saying for a while that most drivers who think or hope their 2022 car could be like turning over a new leaf in competitiveness should stay put for 2022 so they don’t find themselves having left the team to beat. There’s no way Max is leaving the car that might be the one to beat. It’s not even a fleeting thought to him, imho.

    2. Hamilton has also said how much he loves tight competition

      Yes, he said that. Therefore, it is false

  37. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    10th July 2021, 15:42

    The obvious choice is Russell but it’s such a complicated situation with Lewis doing such a good job at Mercedes over the past 8 years. Plus Bottas has done everything he needed to until now for the team. I guess it’s inevitable that Lewis and George will be teammates eventually.

  38. As a couple of others have pointed out, I think the reason Mercedes will go with Russell if they do swap will be because of the challenge Perez is posing for them now. With a more competitive Red Bull, they need a rear gunner who can beat or reliably cause alternative race strategies to cause Red Bull to switch their own strategies. Right now Bottas is not fast enough to beat Perez reliably, if he is behind he fails to overtake, his pace does not allow Mercedes to have multiple race strategies so they can counter Red Bull. What Mercedes needs is a driver who is not quite as fast as Lewis, but will push him and will be able to beat Red Bull’s number 2 consistently, or at least pose a problem for them during the race. Maybe Russell will be that. Bottas isn’t that now that we’ve seen Red Bull step up their game with the car and number 2 driver v

    1. Russell and he’s timing it perfectly isn’t he now Hamilton appears to be slipping, Lewis hasn’t been much faster than Bottas these last few races which is almost unheard of.

      Plus you have the fact that Hamilton has just about given up and looks in a poor place mentally.

      I can see another JB situation here where GR comes in and takes over the team, getting all the personal behind him, it will get in Hamilton’s head big time IMO.

  39. Russel, because Hamilton is reaching the age where he’ll get less competitive. It won’t be pretty, but they can be ready.

  40. Obviously russell, I’d also add that finishing 2nd in the championship the last couple of years doesn’t flatter bottas, having a dominant car, especially in 2020 and almost beaten by verstappen…

  41. AJ (@asleepatthewheel)
    10th July 2021, 18:08

    Bottas is actually a decent driver. It is easy to forget that when he joined, Mercedes no longer had a consistent advantage over the opposition marked by the resurgence of Ferrari for 2 seasons which led to team orders. Even in 2019-20, Red Bull and others had closed up enough to capitalise on any mistake during qualifying to demote Merc a position on the grid.
    And after Lewis won his 5th, chasing the once-impossible statistical records would have been on everyone’s mind, which may have led to Bottas not being given importance behind the scenes. So in a way, he’s there in the team, but also not there.
    He’s not a top tier driver, but just one grade below them. I hope he stays on the grid.

  42. Dan Rooke (@geekzilla9000)
    10th July 2021, 19:00

    Bottas does not deserve the criticism he gets, the truth is he has been perfect for Mercedes.

    He is not a bad driver.

    But I’d stick Russell in. He seems to have a streak of exceptional talent and it would be the perfect time to get him in the Mercedes for the start of new regs.

    Mercedes might not be the top team in 2022. Instead of a wingman to finish 2nd they may need someone who has racecraft and battles for positions – it’s worth taking a punt and investing in the future.

    Plus, it would make me incredibly happy to see George in a competitive car.

    1. He’s indeed not bad, was decent the last few races, but russell deserves mercedes more than him, he’s had his chance, he can’t even compete with a fading hamilton overall.

  43. I’ll admit that I am indifferent about Bottas, I don’t think however that he deserves to have his MB tenure looked as an unsuccessful one or one that deserves bashing. It was clear that when MB brought him on that Bottas was going to be a clear number 2 and that they didn’t want a repeat of a Hamilton/Rosberg situation with both vying to be number 1.

    From that respect, it’s hard to say that Bottas has been anything but a textbook number 2 driver. While his race performance hasn’t matched his quali’s a number of times, MB has continued to win the WCC with Bottas usually podiuming or at the very worst getting top 5 finishes while Hamilton is either winning or finishing in the top 2.

    I can understand why MB is taking their time with this decision, there are a lot of things to consider carefully and no real guarantees if the outcome will go their way. This is all without taking 2022 rule changes into account and how that will all play out. A lot of variables that can go any which way so by no means is this is a simple driver decision which most are not.

    1. Definitely agree.
      By far the longest post I have waded through to date.
      Couple of things that have gone unmentioned ….
      The new spec cars. This will be a crap-shoot.
      Some teams will nail it and some will miss the mark. Williams may be getting better now, but it means nothing for the new spec car. If JR stays at Williams, he may well be back with the Hass boys for another season. Not fun for sure.
      Last point, everything changes when you least expect it. Just wait till there are 4 races left in the season and the driver market could, and likely will, change significantly.
      Will get to look at a post as long as this one I bet.

  44. The situation with Russell is starting to remind me a little of Sainz in 2017. Can he afford to be patient and just wait for a Mercedes seat or does he need to get out and forge a new path elsewhere? I’d like to see George go to Mercedes but I wouldn’t bet on it. It would be a huge shame for such a talent to miss the opportunity at a front-running team. It also reminds me a little of Pascal Wehrlein. I remember he was going to be the next big thing but he never really had the opportunity to show what he could do.

    1. Yes, once again this shows the failure of the mercedes junior program, remember also the issues ocon faced.

    2. @tommy-c I don’t think there is another top seat available right now, and I have a feeling GR has already been quite assured of the Mercedes seat for next year.

  45. Me! Bottas is a very good driver. Sometimes the Mercedes Pit or Strategy lets him down. However he is the reason Ham got his titles. Another driver won’t change anything it is pure investment for the future.

  46. Bottas may have finished runner-up the last two years in a row, but nine races in with a less competitive car and he’s fifth in the standings. Granted, that isn’t entirely his fault, but there have been some conspicuously poor performances.

    Add the nailed on 18 points he lost in Monaco to his tally and he slots into 3rd in the championship behind Hamilton and ahead of Perez and Norris.

    1. @geemac Shall we then give a mulligan to other drivers too and surmise the math afterwards? It is too convenient to pretend one event didn’t happen, but of course I do get your point that his overall performance, as reflected strictly by the points, might look a bit better had the wheel nut issue in Monaco not occurred. But how about we hand Max the 25 he should have had but for his rear tire exploding through no fault of his own? That stretches the gap VB has to the leader even more. As the quote says there have been some conspicuously poor performances too.

      1. @robbie I’m not saying there haven’t been poor performances, but basing giving him the sack on his position in the standings would be incorrect given there is at least one major mitigating factor at play.

        1. @geemac Ok fair, but at the same time the mention of his place in the standings in this article does not mean that is how the decision will be made by TW, certainly not without looking at the mitigating circumstances, all the while it is one measure used when one takes all the drivers’ mitigating circumstances into account.

          What I consider is that for VB’s 5th season now he has again not taken the fight to LH, in the WCC car, and sure while to many that means he is doing his job at Mercedes, he himself is there to win and not be LH’s boot licker, and yet season after season of him claiming to have upped his game ahead of each season, that has never happened. And now that the chips are down on the team a bit, he is not there helping them in the WCC fight. Sure, the car is relatively now on it’s hind foot a bit competitively, but just in terms of TW saying he’ll look at his next races I just don’t see what TW would in VB that would inspire him to say yeah VB is now better, has found something within, and we need to keep him.

          This season if anything (so far at least) should show TW if anything why he needs a stronger driver pairing. Bad enough that LH has made some mistakes. That is when VB needed to fill in the void to make up for those lost points and take them away from RBR.

  47. To me is quite simple. Mercedes has been a dominant tema the past serveral years and has a world class champion and a good teammate alongside him, but with a Red Bull better performance this year, and maybe for the next years, Merdeces have to decide to keep a proven good teammates which can deliver in current circumstances or bring a potencial better driver than Bottas in Russell, but keep in mind that GR can be as well all british people hopes or can be another Gasly/Albon for the team. In Bottas thay already know what to expect and Russell is an unknown bet.
    I’ll keep Bottas

  48. Mercedes should start thinking about the future and pick George. But I suspect Toto really values team harmony and will stick with Valtteri for one more year.

  49. What does Russell have on his cv besides beating up on Latifi and a physically limited Kubica? He had a cup of coffee in Hamilton’s car when it was the clear fastest in the grid, sure, but the same people saying he’s better than Hamilton for beating Bottas are saying Bottas is a weak basis to compare Hamilton. At then end of the day the team has all the performance data they need to make a choice. He may well show well when it comes down to the numbers. But I find the Russell mania among the casual observers quite overly pitched.

  50. If it were up to my choice, I would keep the Hamilton/Bottas duo.
    I think Hamilton wants to maximize his chances of winning the championship with Bottas who doesn’t offer risks. After all, for those who in their first year in F1 (of course all Mclaren’s support) reached the end of the championship tied with Alonso, who came from two world titles, it says a lot about his talent (in fact he could have won the title at the Brazilian GP if you hadn’t made that horrible mistake at the Chinese GP at the pits), and you won’t be afraid of anyone.
    In Toto Wolf’s place I would be very pragmatic, given that there are 3 possible situations for next year’s championship:
    1st Mercedes develops a car far superior to Red Bull’s;
    In this situation, free dispute, let the best win. Even with Perez’s help, Verstappen won’t win many races. Mercedes constructors title and drivers title also with one of the two. A rerun of the 1988 championship (or 2014, if you want something more recent);
    2nd Mercedes develops a car similar to the Red Bull;
    Victories distributed between the two teams, but Verstappen will win for Red Bull (Perez will be a faithful squire only); at Mercedes, Hamilton and Russell share the victories. Verstappen wins the drivers’ title, as the points will be diluted between Hamilton and Russell while Verstappen will have the leading role in the team, and Mercedes takes the constructors’ title. We’ve already seen such a story in the 2007 championship where Alonso and Hamilton lost to Raikkonen, who was the big underdog in the championship.
    3rd Mercedes develops a car inferior to that of Red Bull;
    There’s not much to do, maybe Russell and Hamilton will win a race here or there. Verstappen wins the drivers’ title and Red Bull the constructors’ title.
    In the 3 situations above, Verstappen wins in 2…
    With Bottas, Hamilton will have a leading role if the Mercedes and Red Bull cars are similar (situation 2), then he will have chances to beat Verstappen and even win the world title. Thus, the title only escapes you if the car is really bad.
    I don’t see Hamilton’s fear for Russell when in his statements he praises Bottas. I see Hamilton thinking about himself (and he has to do that, he doesn’t have to sponsor drivers), wanting to get more titles, more records, and knowing he needs Bottas’ help this year. And honestly I would do the same in his place.

  51. a GOAT should be paired / matched as diverse as possible
    => they ran BOT two seasons too long

  52. Take Mazepin, another fastest lap. LOL. No keep Botta’s, replace Ham with Russel. It is the better choice for next Season.

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