Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton recently confirmed that they will be racing together for another two years. This leaves the second seat at Mercedes yet unconfirmed as current driver Valtteri Bottas’ contract will also expire at the end of this year. Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has now revealed when they will choose a second driver and who the possible candidates are while addressing the media in Austria
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0:00 - Toto Wolff Reveals Candidates For Second Driver in 2022
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Toto Wolff Reveals Candidates For Second Driver in 2022
Wollf began by explaining why they announced Lewis Hamilton’s contract renewal so soon
“It’s a hard-fought championship, it needs all the concentration. And that’s why the announcement came so quickly”
He then turned his attention to Bottas
“We always said we want to give it the next few races to gain clarity. Valtteri’s racing in Austria was really good and he needs to consolidate that. But he’s a known factor”
He then compared that to George Russell
“In the same way we know the strengths and weaknesses of George, and that decision is going to be made during the summer”
He then explained how they are going to choose their driver
“First [we will have] discussions with George and Valtteri and then hopefully we are sorted before the end of the season”
He signed off by confirming that they aren’t considering anyone else apart from Bottas and Russell
“It’s between those two, we value them both for their strengths and what they can bring to the team”
Retired F1 driver turned pundit Jolyon Palmer feels that McLaren’s Lando “Norris seems to have hit a new level this season”
“We can see evidence of that not only by Norris’ own performance but also in the way that Daniel Ricciardo is struggling in comparison, in the other McLaren”, Palmer added
He further thinks that “Ricciardo is a proven race winner with Red Bull, we know what he can do and he showed that skill also when he switched to Renault, leading the team back to the podium”
“For whatever reason Ricciardo is still struggling since his switch to McLaren though and despite a few false dawns - in Barcelona and Paul Ricard - it seems he still has a lot to find”
Mercedes’ trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin thinks they “would have been satisfied with a second and third [at the Austrian GP], which was realistically the best [they] could have done”
He added that they “were the makers of [their] own issues a bit with the poor qualifying. So, that made it very, very difficult to be even thinking about challenging Max [Verstappen]”
He further suggested that “the problem is, everyone is looking at what they did in the first week and improving it for the second, and it doesn’t feel like [Mercedes] made any relevant progress”
Dutch Grand Prix Sporting Director, Jan Lammers has explained that “Winning gives time and rest. Winning gives you peace of mind. Because: winning doesn't have to be explained”
“Now Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton are going through what Max and Red Bull have been through all these years”
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner “didn't have many problems with Lando's move on Checo” at the Austrian GP
“If you go via the outside, then you are simply taking a risk. But when the FIA issued a penalty for that, there was no way back”
“Then they had no choice but to also hand out penalties for similar actions [by Pérez] on Charles”, Horner surmised
Retired F1 driver Ralf Schumacher “can't imagine Hamilton has much say in [who his teammate will be]. Mercedes has to think about the future after Hamilton”
“So, George Russell looks like the new driver. There are not many drivers on the market. Not at all because [he doesn’t think] Valtteri Bottas is really an option for Mercedes anymore”
Xevi Pujolar, Alfa Romeo’s head of trackside engineering can confirm that the Williams cars are “difficult to follow and to pass on the straights, but [he thinks that Alfa Romeo] have a better race car”
He, however, feels that George “Russell is quite especially doing a very good job in qualifying and [they] just need to work harder and match it or do better”
He further suggested that its “not only Russell, but [they] could fight with Alpine, with Aston Martin, even one of the AlphaTauris. So, everything is very tight”
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