F1: Russell continues prep for new season
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Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton will be Mercedes driving team for the 2021 Formula One season, but some huge changes are just around the corner for the Constructors’ Champions it seems. Toto Wolff has opened up on who he is eyeing to replace the two men that have made his team almost invincible in recent years.
Mercedes chief Toto Wolff has revealed when the Constructors’ Champions will make a decision on whether George Russell will join the team.
Russell is currently contracted to Williams, but filled in for Lewis Hamilton for one race last season when the world champion was isolating with Covid.
Many believe that Russell will be the long-term replacement for Hamilton at Mercedes, with the Brit’s long-term future unclear at 37 years old and agreeing just a one year deal.
And team principal Wolff has given a time frame of when they will discuss the possibility of Russell replacing Hamilton.
He said: ”We will evaluate in the middle of the year whether there will be a change in 2022.”
Wolff did indeed confirmed that both Russell, as well as Esteban Ocon, who is set to play second fiddle to Sebastien Vettel next season at Alpine, will be looked at as serious options to replace either Valtteri Bottas or Hamilton for next year.
“Esteban is in the second year of a two-year contract with Renault and Alpine F1, and George is with Williams this year,” Wolff told La Gazzetta Dello Sport’s weekly F1 magazine Sport Week.
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“So we have some options for 2022, but until then our full support goes to Valtteri and Lewis. We will evaluate in the middle of the year whether there will be a change in 2022.
“We will evaluate in the middle of the year whether there will be a change in 2022.”
Meanwhile, Mercedes’ technical director Mike Elliott has admitted that the progress of George Russell will be closely monitored throughout the 2021 F1 season.
“I think most Mercedes people, as well as looking at our own drivers, probably would also follow what George [Russell] is doing at Williams,” Elliott told The Muscle Help Foundation.
He added: “Then I think if you look at the key drivers, [Charles] Leclerc is obviously a really good driver. It’s going to be interesting to see how [Sebastian] Vettel gets on at Aston Martin, see whether he can reignite his career.”
The 2021 Formula One season kicks off in Bahrain on March 28, with testing set to take place in the Middle East two weeks beforehand.
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