F1: George Russell hikes during the off-season
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Red Bull’s chief advisor Helmut Marko believes Valtteri Bottas has no place to go on the grid if he’s axed from Mercedes, unless the 31-year-old does a straight swap with George Russell at Williams.
Reports are swirling that Mercedes chief Toto Wolff has already informed Russell’s management that the Brit will replace Bottas next season.
Speculation has only intensified as Bottas has clocked his worst start to a season alongside Mercedes yet, not scoring points over the past two races, and slipping down to sixth in the driver standings.
The Finn is also yet to have finished higher than third this year, with two retirements to his name, sitting 58 points behind championship leader Max Verstappen.
F1-Insider.com said their new information coincides with Sky Italia, with both publications suggesting Russell’s move is a done deal.
They go on to suggest that according to this information, Russell is due to replace the Finn at Mercedes for 2022.
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The report adds that Toto Wolff has already contacted Russell’s management himself, with an announcement due soon.
And Marko believes it would be the “logical” next steps for Mercedes, even if it may not be what potential team-mate Lewis Hamilton could want.
“It would be the logical step”, Marko told F1-Insider.com, “You can’t hold it off any longer. Otherwise, the funding no longer makes sense. Even if Hamilton won’t be happy. “
With Verstappen leading the standings and his team-mate Sergio Perez winning last time out, Red Bull seem content with their line-up for now, despite the Mexican signing a one-year deal.
And the Austrian also revealed there’s no room at Red Bull for Bottas, but suggested the Finn could end up back where he started his career.
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And what will happen to Bottas then? “Bottas doesn’t have to call us,” explains Marko. “There is no space.
“Actually, I can only imagine a swap with Russell. I think Williams will be the only option for him.”
Bottas says he expects contract discussions with Mercedes to start over the ‘next month or so’ as the Finn looks to keep his seat at the seven-time world champions in 2022.
“We haven’t yet talked about anything, because this is being a pretty demanding championship and we know how much it matters to be able to work in peace, let’s say, when you can focus on the main thing, that is performance,” said Bottas.
Russell meanwhile told Autosport: “I think, naturally, we all want something decided either way by the summer break, really, I think it’s in everyone’s best interests.”
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