Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Red Bull Ring, 2021

Bottas and Russell unwilling to confirm if their future has been decided

2021 Belgian Grand Prix

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The two drivers in contention to be appointed as Lewis Hamilton’s team mate next year say there is “no news” on their future ahead of this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix, but refused to confirm whether a decision had been taken.

Hamilton’s current team mate Valtteri Bottas said “there’s no news to share yet” when asked if Mercedes had decided to retain him for a sixth season in 2022.

Mercedes had previously indicated a decision would be taken during the summer, but team principal Toto Wolff has since indicated an announcement will not be made until September.

“Maybe I know something, maybe I don’t, but like I said there’s no news to share,” said Bottas.

Williams driver George Russell, who is under consideration by Mercedes to take Bottas’ place, echoed his words.

“No news to share at this stage,” said Russell. “Obviously [we were] in discussions over the summer break but there’s nothing to announce, one way or another, this weekend, and probably not next weekend either to be honest. Which I think is no problem – do things right rather than quickly.”

“We’re both fortunate that we are both looked in ways by Mercedes and we both trust them to look after our futures one way or another,” Russell added. “From my side there is no real problems and whether it’s tomorrow, whether it’s after Abu Dhabi, you have to trust the people who are looking out for you.”

Bottas was unwilling to reveal whether the pair had been told of a decision but that an announcement will be made later.

“There is no news to share,” he said. “I don’t need to clarify any reasons for that.”

Since he joined Mercedes in 2017, Bottas has had a succession of single-year extensions to his contracts. The delay in confirming his position for next season does not pose any problems for him, he said.

“It’s not problematic, it’s nothing new for me,” he said. “The situation overall, I’m fine with it completely, just really head down and focus for the weekend.

“I’m pretty sure the next few weeks will fly by with the triple-header and the battle in our hands as a team is the main focus. Things eventually will sort themselves out and we’ll see.”

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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...
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25 comments on “Bottas and Russell unwilling to confirm if their future has been decided”

  1. They both must be so sick of answering this question.

    1. @rocketpanda, I concur, although nothing they can really do to avoid getting questions about this matter.

    2. I’m surprised they don’t make a loud sigh every time they’re asked.

  2. Good for them sticking together with that answer.

  3. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    26th August 2021, 13:12

    The reply from both drivers sounds exactly the same as if it’s coming from a PR person.

    1. Suffering Williams Fan
      26th August 2021, 17:48

      That was exactly my thought, the common phrase “no news to share” does have the feel of having been fed to both.

  4. Plot twist: they sign both drivers, racing on alternating weekends, neither accumulating enough points to challenge Lewis.

    1. Plot plot twist: Jam is let go and they bring in Russel and keep Bottas…

  5. Without hearing them speaking on the interview it’s hard to read them, and they were also oriented by the same PR for sure, but George is much more outspoken on his answer than Bottas, which is more evasive. The writing is on the wall for Bottas.

  6. Reading between the lines, it sounds like they both know what the decision for next season is but that the final details and contract language are still being worked out. Once those are ironed out, they can talk about it publicly.

    To me that means that Merc are signing Russell for next season and finding a place for Bottas to land softly. If it was another 1-year deal for Bottas in the Merc and for Russell in the Williams I doubt the negotiations would take that long; they’d just copy and paste from this season.

    1. @g-funk Yeah seems that way to me too. GR is saying ‘we were in discussions over the summer break’ and of course that can just be his way of hiding things from the media ahead of a formal announcement, but on the face of it what would there be to discuss if both drivers were staying put, other than the fringe stuff like off-track promotional work etc.

  7. I wish I could see the interview. They are clearly both aware of where they will be next year, but they’ve been given clear instructions to stay quiet. I’m sure their body language throughout the weekend will give us some hints.

    1. @dot_com Yeah on that note I have felt for numerous weeks now that GR seems very upbeat and like he’s just plain enjoying himself and he just has not come off to me as someone who knows he’s going nowhere next year. I know that is little to go by but it is just what I have sensed starting at least a few months ago.

    2. I dunno, if both deals are done, why not allow them to announce it (or Toto/Mercedes themselves) – what’s the benefit on holding out on it? I doubt they sell many Bottas shirts…

      I think Russel to Merc is done, but they are struggling to find somewhere else for Bottas, personally.

      1. @joeypropane Yeah, I think the delay is sorting out where Bottas will be next year

        1. Agreed. I think Mercedes have told Russell he has the Mercedes seat, but they want to wait until the details of Bottas’ next drive (at Williams or Alfa Romeo?) are completed.

    3. @dot_com I think we’re also likely to see it on track too if VB knows he’s leaving. The more clear indication could be if he and Lewis meet on track and VB is racing him aggressively, unless he cares enough about racing at Williams or a delayed deal to AM that he doesn’t dare cross Toto. The other way we could see it is in a big swing in his performance in either way. I’d actually guess he’d perform better with the pressure of competing for the seat gone, but maybe he’ll be despondent and drive terribly.

      The one scenario I could see is that VB has one more year and GR is placated by being given a three-year guaranteed contract starting in 2023. While it would mean yet another year waiting, it would also mean a lot more security in the event he had some initial struggles at MB. It would also mean he was virtually guaranteed to inherit the #1 seat as I can’t see LH staying past 2023. Probably not even that long if he wins the title this year.

      1. pressure off*

        the most clear indication*

      2. Let’s see if Bottas is still playing the team game this weekend.

      3. I think the more likely tell will be how Bottas races against the midfield competitors. He is probably isn’t going to race against Lewis. He just hasn’t been fast enough for most of this year to battle Max and Lewis during the races but he has found himself in the midfield quite often. If he starts letting certain teams of the midfield past without putting up too much of a fight then I think we’ll know which team he’s headed to. I would say we might be also able to tell if he doesn’t make any pass attempts against certain teams but his passing racecraft just hasn’t been that good that year. He seems to get stuck behind slower cars and not able to make moves that the equipment seems like it should be able to make.

      4. You mean AM or AR?

  8. If the difference in the tenor of their comments is anything fo go by, it seems clear Bottas is out and Russell is in. George’s comments have a strong undercurrent of smugness and ease while Bottas sounds succinct with a slightly bitter. This is simply my personal interpretation of words on paper of course.

    1. I thought the same.

  9. The longer it goes on the more it leans towards GR.
    tbh I think GR already knows, but why admit anything to BOT? The longer he thinks he has a chance the more motivated he is for the rest of the season.

    If VB was staying then they’d have told him, and announced it. IMHO of course.

    1. They surely both know that GR has got the seat. They are waiting to announce after VB secures his own place.

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