F1 preview: A lap of the Belgian Grand Prix
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Toto Wolff and Lewis Hamilton “have the same opinion” on who should fill the second seat at Mercedes next season, according to the team boss. Both Valtteri Bottas and George Russell are sweating over the decision, with Wolff yet to decide which one of them should race for the team alongside Hamilton in 2022.
The seven-time world champion signed a new deal earlier this summer, committing his future to the Silver Arrows until the end of the 2023 season.
While that decision was made a long time ago, Wolff has taken longer to mull over the options available for the other seat on offer at the Brackley-based team.
The Austrian has revealed he has been discussing the situation with Hamilton, who he says has transcended being just a driver and is “a very important part of the team”.
He told Sky Sports F1: “He is really not a driver. Drivers are normally contractors. They come and then maybe they go for another opportunity and Lewis has been with us, I think we are in our ninth year together.
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“[He has] such incredible importance, like all these guys, so he is part of the discussions.
“He and I are brainstorming what is best for the team. He is taking the driver cap off really because when he has the driver cap on, we pretty much both know what is good for him.
“But he is taking the team view and we have been discussing all throughout the summer and we have the same opinion.”
Many believe Russell will be replacing Bottas for 2022, though Wolff’s words hint the Finn may yet be given one more year in the seat.
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While Hamilton has heaped praise on Russell in the past, he has said on a number of occasions that he would like to continue his fruitful partnership with his current team-mate.
“I’ve obviously been vocal in the past of my loyalty to Valtteri, and worked incredibly closely with him,” the Briton said. “I think our working relationship is better than ever.
“Toto’s a great leader, and as I’ve said in the past, we always stay connected. Of course, we talk about these things.
“Naturally, we’re all part of the same team, we want what’s best for the team moving forwards, we want to win more championships, and so we just have conversations.”
He went on to say he would support the decision no matter what the team decides to do, and is focussing on fending off the challenge of Max Verstappen in a bid to win his eighth F1 world championship crown.
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