(GMM) Toto Wolff has hinted that Mercedes’ decision about the identity of Lewis Hamilton’s 2022 teammate is “already made”.
The reigning champion team’s boss has already said that if Valtteri Bottas is replaced by George Russell next year, he will help the Finn to find an alternate seat.
“We’ll see what decision we make – or have already made but not yet said,” Wolff said in an interview with RTL.
“Unfortunately I have no news, but to tell someone ‘That’s it’ is one of the most difficult discussions I can have. It’s something I would rather not do,” he added.
“But although it is incredibly difficult, it is my role that I also have to have unpleasant conversations,” said Wolff, who appointed Bottas to replace Nico Rosberg in 2017.
However, he said one of those difficult decisions may now be looming large, especially “if I think it’s the right thing for the team”.
When asked about 23-year-old Russell, the Mercedes junior who currently drives so impressively for Williams, Wolff said: “He definitely has what it takes to be world champion.
“But you have to build him up carefully – which is what we did.”
And no matter the content of any forthcoming announcement, Wolff says he will look after both Russell and Bottas.
“It is important that they both have a future,” he said, “and that we discuss with them what the alternatives are.”
July 19, 2021
(GMM) Toto Wolff says he will do what he can to enable Valtteri Bottas to have a “great future” in Formula 1.
Amid sweeping rumors that the Finnish driver is set to lose his seat to George Russell for 2022, Mercedes boss Wolff hailed Bottas’ role in supporting Lewis Hamilton throughout the British GP weekend.
“Valtteri was really fast today,” he told Ilta Sanomat newspaper, after Bottas first gave Hamilton a slipstream in qualifying and then obeyed team orders in the race.
“Lewis came from behind with hard tires and was just in a different class than everyone else. Valtteri was second fastest and helped Lewis,” Wolff admitted.
“He’s a great team player with the right kind of personality,” he added.
However, it is widely believed that Bottas, 31, is currently weighing up his options for 2022 – with Alfa Romeo or Williams looking to be his best ones.
Previously, Wolff was personally involved in the management of Bottas’ career alongside Mika Hakkinen and Didier Coton. Today, Hakkinen and Coton are still handling the Finn.
When asked if he will also do his best to help Bottas, Wolff answered: “If there is a situation where we want to give someone else a chance, it’s not just about my relationship with him.
“I see it as my duty because he deserves a great future,” he added.
“He has been a teammate of the best Formula 1 driver in history, and it is not always easy to shine in those circumstances. But he has been fantastic.”