British F1 Star George Russell will not be racing for Mercedes this year. The seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton recently signed a contract extension with Mercedes. This sealed off the chance for Russell to race for the reigning champions.
Mercedes was in a contract deadlock with Hamilton since the end of last season. The former signed a one-year contract extension this week with the German automobile giant. Subsequently, the other driver Mercedes has on the table is Valtteri Bottas. Both Lewis and Bottas will run out of contract after this season. With two drivers on the cards for 2021, the season for Mercedes is on the go now.
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) February 8, 2021
The contract scenario
2021 is the final year on Russell’s three-year Williams deal when he might dream of a promotion. The duration of Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas’ one-year contract might result in a vacancy of two seats by the 2022 season. Further, Russell will wait for this opportunity to open up.
Reacting to the Russell fiasco, Sky Sport’s Craig Slater stated “With regards to George Russell, he’s still waiting in the wings. You have a situation now that you will have for that 2022 season Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas and George Russell all out of contract at Mercedes, which is interesting but as long as Mercedes have the kind of car they’ve had for the last few years they will have no problems recruiting the driver they want.”
Slater further conveyed, “As far as Max Verstappen is concerned, he is contracted up to 2023 with Red Bull so you’d have to say, looking at things at the moment, George Russell now has maybe extra opportunity to get into that Mercedes seat in 2022 either if they don’t continue with Bottas or if Hamilton says ‘it’s eight, and I vacate’.”
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) February 9, 2021
The Hamilton fiasco
With a one-year contract renewal with Mercedes, it will be Hamilton’s 15th season in his Formula 1 career and ninth in the German automobile giants. With this year, the Brit will compete for a record-breaking eighth world title.
Speaking about Hamilton’s one-year deal, Slater said the deal was mutually done. He added, “A senior figure at Mercedes expressed to me that both sides wanted flexibility of a year,” he said. “That is interesting. In Lewis Hamilton’s case, if he wins his eighth World title at the age of 36, he is ahead of Formula 1’s statistics by every measure, by every significant manner, he might wake up the next morning and decide he wants to do something else”
“As far as Hamilton and Mercedes are concerned, they have now dealt with 2021, but this by no means means they will not continue to work together in 2022, that Lewis won’t continue his racing career with Mercedes. A lot of people will surprised that it is just one year. Lewis has talked previously about being very interested in the new generation of cars that begins in 2022 so don’t count him out staying with Mercedes for that new era.” Slater asserted.
No ‘Verstappen clause’ ever discussed ❌
When Hamilton & Wolff first started talks 🗣️
Why only a one-year deal? 🤔@SkySportsNews' Craig Slater with some of the key details behind Lewis Hamilton's new Mercedes deal.
— Sky Sports F1 (@SkySportsF1) February 8, 2021
Rise of Russell
Talking about the young Brit George Russell, he became famous when he replaced Covid-struck Defending Champion Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes line up.
He almost won the race in Sakhir Grand Prix last season. After leading for almost 87 laps, Russell had to settle for a ninth-place. He suffered a slow puncture and a pit-stop blunder, eventually.
Lewis Hamilton praised Russell for putting up an impressive performance under pressure. Russell reacted to the praise and told in an interview, “Lewis is a legend and of course the greatest racer in the sport. My respect for him in the last four years has increased enormously. To receive such nice words from him, that means a lot to me, but I won’t let it affect me. After all, Lewis is not going to make a difference to my career.” he added.
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) December 5, 2020
“I have to do it all myself. I have to go out on the track and perform there. It doesn’t matter if every driver says I’m the best driver of them all if I don’t perform. You have to show your worth on the track.” Russell further asserted.
Despite the struggles Russell had on track with the Williams F1 team, he still managed to put up several impressive drives last season.
Mercedes AMG F1 Boss Toto Wolff admitted to the possibility of giving Russell a permanent spot in the team just before the contract renewal with Lewis Hamilton.