Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Spa-Francorchamps, 2021

Hamilton “taking the team’s view” over team mate decision – Wolff

2021 Belgian Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton has ‘taken the driver’s hat off’ and accepted Mercedes’ needs in selecting his team mate for the 2022 F1 season, according to Toto Wolff.

The Mercedes team principal described Hamilton’s input into the discussions whether the Valtteri Bottas will be replaced by George Russell at the team next year. Hamilton has already extended his deal to drive for Mercedes until 2023, by which time he will have spent 11 years with them.

“Lewis is a very important part of the team,” Wolff told Sky. “He’s really not a driver: drivers are normally contractors, they come and then maybe they go for another opportunity. Lewis has been with us, I think we’re in the ninth year together, [he has] such an incredible importance like all these guys.

“So he’s part of the discussions, he and I are brainstorming what’s best for the team. He’s taking the driver cap off, really, because when he has the driver cap on, we pretty much know both what is good for him. But he’s also taking the team’s view and we have been discussing all throughout the summer and we have the same opinion.”

Russell, 23, has long been tipped as a replacement for the 31-year-old Bottas, who has won nine races since joining the team in 2017. Hamilton has taken 45 wins – and every championship title – during the same period. However Wolff believes Bottas’ form is better than his results indicate.

“Valtteri seems to have bad luck glued to his steering wheel,” said Wolff. “So he could have looked much better, maybe not won the amount of races that Lewis did, but he is much better than that. And you see on pace every Friday, every Saturday he is right there, if not quicker.

“But there is a generational change and every other of the top teams has one of those highly promising kids. So there is definitely an argument that we also need to look to the future going forward.”

Wolff previously said a decision will be taken during the summer, but later confirmed an announcement will not be made before next month. However, he said the team would prefer to settle the matter “sooner rather than later, because both drivers that are in the run for this cockpit need to know.”

“For us it was always important, whatever step we take, we need to know what would happen to George or to Valtteri if we decide for one of them, and that is something that I’m considering all the time,” Wolff continued. “And we are not going to take a decision unilaterally without knowing where the direction goes for the other one.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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24 comments on “Hamilton “taking the team’s view” over team mate decision – Wolff”

  1. someone or something
    27th August 2021, 12:35

    This is beyond boring. Just announce what you have to announce, when you have something to annonuce. Otherwise, do us the favour and just say nothing.

    1. You think they want to be talking about it? They are being asked incessantly

    2. But don’t you like this awkward circling around something that everyone knows is going to happen?

      1. someone or something
        27th August 2021, 13:13

        Absolutely not. As I said, it’s beyond boring, because pretending there’s any sort of complexity is a straight up insult of the fans’ intelligence.
        There are exactly two relevant options, and maybe a 1% chance of something else happening:
        A) Bottas. Hasn’t been, isn’t, will never be championship material, and already turns 32 tomorrow. Pros: Is slow enough to make sure Mercedes only need team orders every 10 races or so, but is fast enough to steal points off the competition as long as Mercedes has the upper hand.
        B) Russell. Up-and-coming driver, tends to punch above his weight in the Williams, has proven great potential and adaptability in his one-off appearance for Mercedes despite lacking the time to get a proper preparation. Might get fed up with waiting for a promotion that never comes, and turn his sights to Red Bull. Cons: Might actually challenge Hamilton, and the team’s leadership still seems to suffer from PTSD from that time when they had more than one competitive driver.

        Those facts have been know for over a year now (apart from Russell’s Bahrain appearance for Mercedes), and every single statement regarding that matter has been a mere regurgitation of those ingredients.
        The decision is binary, and rather simple. Tell us which one you’re going with, or remain silent.

        1. It was meant as sarcasm but thanks for the thorough explanation nonetheless :D

          1. someone or something
            27th August 2021, 15:19

            Always happy to be of service.

        2. I’d say it’s you that’s binary.

          1. someone or something
            27th August 2021, 15:16

            Beach, I might be.
            You gotta work on your insults, though. The “No, you are XYZ” kind of rhetorical figure had already got sort of stale by the time I graduated from primary school.

          2. To this day you still don’t know where the Report button is placed.

  2. I think its code for Bottas is to be replaced by Hamilton’s likely sucessor.

    1. Also that successor is unlikely to want to play the role of wingman.

    2. Isn’t it funny how most drivers get trashed for not wanting a competitive team-mate. Except for Hamilton.

      1. Does Max get trashed? His teammate gives away his own points just to stop Max’s opposition gaining one.

        1. He’s probably comparing hamilton to schumacher, schumacher got criticized a lot for this, where’s the hamilton criticism for liking bottas?

  3. So he is told which Driver wil be next him in 2022…

  4. Reading between the lines it sounds very much like it’s going to be Russell. I don’t know why they are delaying the announcement. Maybe they are waiting for a place for Bottas to be confirmed. I don’t think Toto will let him be dumped from F1 completely. Alfa Romeo was rumoured I think, if it’s not Williams.

  5. That’s basically saying straight up it will be Russell

    1. @balue
      They really don’t have any choice. They could re-sign Bottas and risk losing both the WCC and Russell. Bottas has been crap since his first season with Mercedes unless for Hamilton and Wolff. The thing is, starting this year Mercedes didn’t enjoy their usual advantage over the competition and 2022 is the unknown with rival teams such as Ferrari and Alpine could theoretically end up in the mix since they have started developing their cars earlier than the rest of the teams.

      They need two capable drivers to fight for both championships. For both Wolff and Hamilton, Russell is a necessary evil otherwise I don’t see why he wasn’t promoted at Mercedes 2 years ago.

      1. @tifoso1989 I don’t think it’s for the campaign as much as it is to prevent him going to the enemy. Just like all the previous years they were happy to leave him festering at Williams and keep Bottas for ‘team dynamics’ reasons.

        1. @balue
          +1. Totally agree with what you’ve said.

    2. Indeed. All signs point to Russell.

    3. I don’t understand, I’m terrible at reading between the lines, where do you (and others) get it’s gonna be russell?

    4. It’s happening…

  6. Got it! “taking the team’s view” is a coded message in Vigenere cypher.
    It means: “dgrsbu sta mqqi’f braw”…

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