Mercedes chief Toto Wolff discusses George Russell and Valtteri Bottas announcement

F1 preview: A lap of the Belgian Grand Prix

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There is no date set in stone for when the announcement of who will partner Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes in 2022 will be made, according to team boss Toto Wolff. The Austrian has confirmed the decision will be made “very quickly”, but the call for the news to be made public “will depend on the circumstances”.

Valtteri Bottas has been Hamilton’s team-mate since he stepped up from Williams in 2017, but after five seasons together the feeling is this may be the Finn’s last with the Silver Arrows.

The expectation is he will be replaced by Mercedes development driver George Russell, who has impressed in his two and a half seasons with Williams in F1 so far and has been tipped to achieve great things in the future.

Despite Wolff hinting a decision would be made before this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix, the radio silence in terms of an official announcement remains.

Bottas was cryptic in his response when asked about the situation in the pre-race weekend press conference on Thursday.

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“Maybe I know more, maybe not,” he said. “In any case, I can’t share any news.”

Russell was similarly tight-lipped when posed the same question by reporters in Belgium.

“There is nothing to announce this weekend and probably not next weekend either,” he admitted. “But that’s not a problem. Let’s do things right rather than rushing.”

They will likely continue to have to fend off questions on this subject, as will Mercedes boss Wolff – the man who, along with the Daimler board, will be making the call.

The Austrian has discussed the situation once again in an interview with Italian outlet Gazzetta dello Sport.

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“We will decide very quickly,” Wolff said. “But the announcement [the timing of it] will depend on the circumstances.

“As long as we are transparent with Valtteri and George, we will be able to handle the situation.

“Because the hardest thing for a driver is not knowing whether or not he will have the seat.”

If Bottas keeps his place at Mercedes then it is likely Russell will be able to continue at Williams, but if the Norfolk-born star is asked to step up then the Finn’s future may be a little more unclear.

It’s possible he could be given the opportunity to return to Williams in what would be a straight swap of drivers.

However, Formula E champion Nyck de Vries and Mercedes EQ team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne might also be in the mix as alternative options, meaning Bottas isn’t necessarily guaranteed a drive in F1 next year.

Time will tell and, hopefully for all involved, sooner rather than later.

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