The Mercedes’ seats saga is not due to stop anytime soon, at least, not until the Silver Arrows decide who will side with Lewis Hamilton starting from 2022.
During the British Grand Prix week, the Berkeley-based team has announced Hamilton’s two-years contract extension, which will see him stay with the team at least until the end of 2023. This, in turn, has intensified the rumours around who will be the Champion’s teammate in 2022.
With his three-year contract concluding this year, the 23-year-old George Russell has long been linked to a seat with Mercedes. Fans and journalists alike are expecting to see him driving alongside British fellow Lewis Hamilton starting from next season.
Indeed, Valtteri Bottas’ one-year contract is expiring at the end of the current season and Russell’s future depends on whether Mercedes decide to keep the Fin onboard beyond 2021, or, as many have suggested, they will opt for a seat-switch: bringing Russell to Mercedes and sending Bottas back where his Formula One’s career began.
Mercedes Team Boss Toto Wolff previously claimed Hamilton’s 2022 teammate will be determined “during the summer”.
Williams Team Principal and CEO Jost Capito, however, is not concerned with Russell’s departure – while the Briton has an undeniable talent, the team’s improving performances have lengthened the list of potential replacements.
Over the last few weeks, the young British driver has proven to be in great form, consistently making the cut into Q3, only missing out on scoring his first points in Formula One, arriving P12 in France and Great Britain a P11 in Austria.
Williams’ boss Capito tackled his 2021 driver enigma at Silverstone: he was asked whether Nico Hulkenberg, who is currently Aston Martin reserve driver, was on his list for 2022.
“I think at the moment we do not exclude any driver who would be available next year and Nico is available for next year, so we’ve got quite a long list.”
Capito further delved into Williams' future line-up in an interview with formula1.com and remarked that the funds injection brought by new team’s owners Dorilton Capital has made Williams an enticing prospect for many drivers.
“The main thing is, we want to have the best drivers that are available and interested to drive for Williams and interested in doing the job for Williams. It’s not definitely the driver who wants to be world champion next year – for us, he would be in the wrong team,” said Capito.
“We need drivers who are willing to support the team, to get the team back, to lead the team, and to improve performance. At the moment we can see the interest in drivers to get to Williams is increasing".
,” he concluded.