F1: Verstappen and Hamilton verbally spar
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Toto Wolff will soon sit down for talks with both Valtteri Bottas and George Russell as the wait goes on to discover which driver the Mercedes chief will choose to partner Lewis Hamilton next season. Bottas, the 31-year-old Finn, is Hamilton’s current teammate but 23-year-old Brit Russell has emerged as a serious prospect in his three years with Williams.
Russell signed a three-year contract with Williams in 2019 and has been tipped to make the step up in 2022. He enhanced his growing reputation further in the Hungarian Grand Prix on August 1, finishing eighth and collecting his first career points. Bottas, meanwhile, did not finish at the Hungaroring and currently sits fourth in the drivers’ standings.
A decision on who will partner Hamilton next season was expected before the resumption of the current F1 campaign in Belgium this weekend. Mercedes boss Wolff revealed he will soon hold talks with both men.
“It is not an easy decision because we know about the qualities of Valtteri’s personality, his character, the integration in the team, the driver development of the car and his speed,” Wolff said. “He deserves to race at Mercedes.
“On the other side, George has done his three years at Williams and shown great, great promise for the future and he deserves to have the chance to actually be in a competitive car at the very front of the grid.
“There are pros and cons with each of them but I guess it’s now decision time. I said to them I don’t want to drag it out much longer. I just want to finish the holidays, go to Spa and have the conversations face-to-face.
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Bottas has proved to be an adequate partner for Hamilton since Nico Rosberg’s retirement in 2016, but The Times reports that Mercedes are currently edging towards replacing him with Russell.
Bottas, however, last week claimed Hamilton has told him he would like their partnership to continue into next season.
“Yes, Lewis has told me quite directly that he would like me to be his teammate,” Bottas told MTV Sport.
“Together we can do very well. The fact is, drivers can’t make a terrible impact on it. Yes, there’s a bigger machine behind it that ultimately makes those decisions.
“Unfortunately, there is nothing to say. It remains to be seen what happens. I don’t think there will be any news in the near future, but yes, those things will be clear in time. Everything is going in the right direction.”
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