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Formula 1

‘Maybe I know something, maybe I don’t’ – Mercedes driver latest

by Scott Mitchell-Malm
4 min read

Fresh focus is on Mercedes’ 2022 Formula 1 driver line-up at the Belgium Grand Prix where Valtteri Bottas and George Russell would not clarify whether a decision has been made.

Incumbent Bottas and Mercedes protege Russell are the only choices to partner seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes next season and had previously expressed an expectation that the matter would be resolved over the summer break.

However, there is no announcement forthcoming upon F1’s return at the Belgian Grand Prix.

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The two drivers appeared together in the first press conference on Thursday and navigated questions coyly, focusing on the joint line that there is “no news to share”.

Bottas said it first, in response to being asked “Do you know yet what you’re doing next year?” – which was a straight question to answer simply if he did not know.

Asked if the lack of news to share was a surprise given the previous indication it would be settled over the summer, Bottas answered: “Not really. Who knows, maybe I know something maybe I don’t.

“But there’s no news to share.”

Russell indicated there will not be an announcement earlier than the Italian Grand Prix in two weeks’ time.

“I guess no news to share at this stage,” he said.

“Obviously in discussions over the summer break. But there’s nothing to announce one way or another, this weekend and probably not next weekend either to be honest.

“Which is no problem. Do things right, rather than quickly.”

Asked by The Race if the lack of news was because a decision had not been made or if they were simply not revealing the information, neither driver was moved to clarify.

“There’s no news to share,” Bottas reiterated. “I don’t need to clarify any reasons for that.

“It’s the same for me, and George, that we have a job to do here and there’s no news.

“We’re going to focus on racing and getting maximum points for the teams we are racing at.”

Though the topic has triggered some games before, with Mercedes boss Toto Wolff admitting to a “wind-up” answer after growing tired of repeated questions on the subject, the fact Bottas and Russell answered the way they did hints this is not simply a awaiting a decision.

It would have been easy to answer the questions straight by claiming they did not know, but instead their responses indicated that it is now a matter of timing the announcement rather than waiting for the outcome of Mercedes’ deliberations.

Russell’s comment indicates news will not come until Monza. That could fit neatly if Mercedes has, as widely expected, chosen Russell and Bottas is poised to join Alfa Romeo – as that would allow Bottas’s new team to announce him ahead of its home race at Monza.

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Russell, for whom stepping up to Mercedes from Williams would be a career-changing opportunity, said he has no concerns about the process of the decision.

“We’re both fortunate that we are both sort of looked after in ways by Mercedes and we both trust them to look after our futures, one way or another,” he said.

“From my side there is no real problem and whether it’s tomorrow, whether it’s after Abu Dhabi, you have to trust the people who are looking out for you.”

Bottas has had his Mercedes future questioned yearly since joining the team in 2017. He reiterated that his focus is on the upcoming races amid Mercedes’ double championship battle.

“From my side it’s not problematic,” said Bottas. “It’s nothing new for me and so the situation overall, I’m fine with it completely.

“Just really head down and focus for the weekend and I’m pretty sure the next three weeks will definitely fly by with the triple-header and we have a pretty good battle in our hands as a team.

“That’s the main focus. Things eventually will will sort themselves out.”

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