George Russell, Valtteri Bottas, Spa-Francorchamps, 2021

Mercedes has chosen Hamilton’s team mate for 2022 – Wolff

2021 Belgian Grand Prix

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Toto Wolff confirmed Mercedes have made their decision over who will partner Lewis Hamilton at the team next year.

Current driver Valtteri Bottas and Mercedes junior George Russell, who races for Williams, have been in contention for the seat.

After Russell stunned by securing a front-row start for Williams in qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix, Wolff confirmed for the first time that the team has finally chosen who will race alongside Hamilton during the 2022 season.

Asked after qualifying if Mercedes had indeed already made their decision on their line-up for next season, Wolff simply replied: “yes”.

“If it would have been an easy decision, we would have made it earlier,” he explained. “Because we know what we have with Valtteri and we know what we have with George and both of them deserve to be looked after in the best possible way because they’re both of them a part of the family, and we hold them up high.

“There are pros and cons like with any driver line up, and at the end there is no such thing as a perfect discussion. But we just need to manage the situation well with whoever driver is not going to be in a Mercedes next year. Make sure that there is an exciting programme and on the other side manage the situation internally, like we’ve always had with Nico [Rosberg] and with George.”

Bottas has partnered Hamilton at Mercedes since joining the team in 2017, following Nico Rosberg’s shock retirement when he won the world championship at the end of the 2016 season. Bottas was almost two-and-a-half second slower than Russell during today’s session, securing only eighth place which will become 13th on the grid for tomorrow’s race after his five-place grid penalty for causing the opening lap collision at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Despite Russell securing his first points of the season at the previous round and taking a surprise front-row start for tomorrow’s race, Wolff says that today’s result will not affect the decision Mercedes have made for the future.

“Today doesn’t make any difference,” he said. “I think we know what we have with George, he has been outstanding in the junior categories. He’s been outstanding at Williams, he’s been outstanding when he jumped in in Bahrain. And if I needed to have that ultimate proof, then something would have been wrong. But it’s not down only to the decision. It’s also considering other factors.”

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2021 Belgian 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...
Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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34 comments on “Mercedes has chosen Hamilton’s team mate for 2022 – Wolff”

  1. I doubt a PowerPoint was needed this time around.

    1. :D George did prove a point with power, outqualifying both Mercedes in a Williams, in conditions where only driver skill could bring about such pace.

      Verstappen getting pole was in line with expectations, but then George? How long can Mercedes ignore such talent?

      Potentially George is the fastest most overperforming driver in F1 right now.

      Mercedes are worried of having two equally fast drivers… but it seems to me George is faster than Lewis.

      1. Indeed, I think a more likely outcome is something like vettel-leclerc than hamilton ruining russell’s career as team mate.

      2. As I pointed out in non suspicious times, this really puts the poor Kubica on a different light. while one-handed he wasn’t so far off from Russel, who everyone is quickly recognizing as possibly one of the biggest talents around. Which you could have inferred early on if you assumed Kubica is still excellent quality (and his LeMans near victory might indicate this)

        1. @alfa145
          Kubica himself when he was racing was considered as one of biggest F1 talents by his rivals own admission, mainly Hamilton and Alonso.

        2. @alfa145

          wasn’t so far off from Russel

          What?!??! Kubica was totally destroyed by Russel. Kubica even went so far as to claim that Williams were giving him a substantially slower car. So then they swapped chassis and Russel went on and kept destroying Kubica just as much.

          Kubica always was an overrated driver who was beaten by Heidfeld over their period together. After his comeback he was even further back behind Russell than Latifi is now.

          1. yeah, that must be the reason Ferrari was about to sign him for 2012

    2. The question is not whether Russell is better than Bottas.
      The question is will he take too much from Hamilton.

      I thought for a while now the main reason they chose Bottasfor this season was they thought it would be the Sir Lewis Hamilton victory tour. Red Bull have all but stopped that.

      Next season there’s no guarantee they’ll have the fastest car, and I think Mercedes and everyone else can see it’s time to give Russell a seat.

      1. The question is whether he will take it all from Hamilton

  2. This all got very silly a very long time ago. It’s become ‘Who’s corner will Toto be in at Wrestlemania?’

    1. RocketTankski
      29th August 2021, 9:20

      “Stone Cold” Val Bottas & “Gorgeous George” Russell will go head to head this Fall. The winner of that matchup will then partner with “Macho Man” Lewis Hamilton, as Macho’s team go on to face Edge and Christian for the Championship belts. Truly a match for the ages!

    1. Right now I think Valtteri’s birthday is already sombre enough, not even an announcement from god would change the mood any.

  3. I think Lewis wants to keep Bottas as his wingman, as he knows he beats him every season and he serves him well in strategy vs Red Bull. With George a big unknown is coming in which looks to be very fast. Maybe the king will have to hand over his seat.

    1. Mercedes are forced to think about what happens when Hamilton retires.
      They of course needs to prepare his sucessor.

      Whether that successor in-wating is prepared second fiddle is another question.
      That new dynamic could hamper the developent of the new package, interms
      of the drivers feedback and their sharing of intel vital to understand the new
      package. on that level Hamilton’s experiance is vital for that transition.

  4. I don’t know, I have a feeling that Mercedes will once again screw George over.
    I wouldn’t be like them to sign two very fast drivers at the same time.

    Toto didn’t seem overly happy about George being in front of Lewis, right after qualifying.
    There was next to no praise for George.

    1. I think if Russell was available he would have got the second Red Bull seat. Horner would love the PR on that. They re-signed Perez when Russell was not available IMHO.

      Bottas will float down somewhere, that is all but guaranteed by the “family” statements.

      1. They re-signed Perez when Russell was not available

        Yes

  5. Just announce already.

  6. Personally I can’t see Hamilton staying that much longer with Mercedes before retiring from the sport.

    He’ll do his best to help Mercedes usher in the new era, he’ll do his best to keep Mercedes competitive
    as they adapt to the new engine package, but then he’ll move on. This could leave the way open for
    Bottas to return as a known factor.

    Meantime lets just see what Russell does from his 2nd position. He had nothing to lose and so he went
    for it. Lewis had something to lose and so he cautiously qualified in 3rd. As for Bottas…

    1. Once Hamilton gets to eight WDCs he’ll want a ninth and then a tenth one. He never stops being hungry for wins and titles.

  7. Wow right after Red Bull announced the Perez extension, who would’ve thought..

    1. Right? Amazing coincidence.

  8. “Considering other factors” that sounds like Bottas. I’m sorry, for me that’s the wrong decision. Amongst all the reasons why stability is good, talent is better because Russell can bounce back from negativity and have a chance to fight for the win as evidenced by Sakhir, whilst Bottas crashes to rock bottom once his negative spiral begins.

    Reply moderated
    1. it is my belief that Mercedes will not put two BRITISH drivers on their team to race each other and create friction with s9me of the bad elements the British press where there will be inevitable bias against one of them.
      Mercedes does not need bad press for their brand and i can bet they will keep Botas for two more years.

      1. @spiderman The only thing that can keep the British press from not being overtly biased is with 2 British drivers.

        As for bad press, Mercedes has shown it doesn’t give a toss about that. They were even ready to do an Austria 2002 in Austria now.

  9. If they are keeping Bottas, why would they wait to announce it?

    If they are going with Russell, they would want to secure a seat for Bottas, which means somebody is losing their seat, so there’s reasons to hold the announcement if that’s the case.

    Reply moderated
  10. Stephen Higgins
    28th August 2021, 20:38

    I think his name rhymes with Borge Trussell….

  11. William thrown everything into Russel qualifying pace today where else Mercedes set Hamilton car for tomorrow race .. well that’s what the respective teams have said.

    Reply moderated
  12. It must be Latifi ;)

  13. The way I see it is, if VB had the seat, GR would just announce he was staying at Williams. Imagine how much Williams merch he is selling!

    Mercedes are doing their best to help VB get a drive by not announcing GR until he does.

  14. The truth is Bottas has had his chance, he’s a good driver but will always remain a number 2 while at Mercedes.
    Pairing Russell with Hamilton WILL undoubtedly create fireworks, how often he will beat Hamilton, we don’t know yet but surely he will do so more than Bottas! Remember Russell is the one who will be fighting Verstappen, Leclerc & co for World Titles long after Hamilton is gone.
    So that’s the choice, one of Toto’s biggest calls yet as the boss. If he doesn’t give the seat to Russell surely he’s failing him by leaving him at Williams for another year, it’s time Russell had a more competitive car for a full season so we can see what he can really do!

  15. Bottas should replace Tsunoda…

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