…Is the news we’re all expecting to hear later on today, following Valtteri Bottas‘ departure from the Silver Arrows yesterday!
It’s been all but guaranteed for some time with the only real question being when it would happen, not if. But, when Bottas and Toto Wolff – boss of the Mercedes F1 Team – drew to a close the Finn’s five year spell at the team this weekend (I assume it was more of a push to Alfa Romeo than a jump), a gap in their driver line up opened up for 2022 that is almost certain to be filled by the young Brit.
With George, Williams have made serious strides forward in the last 12 or 18 months, from a team that could barely trouble 18th place in a 20 car field to one that is now a regular in the top dozen, with a real chance of points at most Grands Prix.
Obviously George Russell hasn’t done this on his own and a huge amount of credit should go to Jost Capito, Simon Roberts & FX DeMaison et al, but it’s a turnaround that would have been so much more difficult without a driver who’s able to consistently get the maximum from an ever improving car.
In George they’ve got that, and it’s fair to say that there’s some concern among fans that without him Williams might be much worse off, whichever driver (of those available & willing to join) they choose to replace him.
So will Mercedes’ announcement coincide with a similar confirmation from Williams about who George Russell’s replacement will be?
Williams won’t want to be rushed, but as a result of the Bottas/Alfa Romeo announcement, which in turn has allowed Mercedes’ Russell deal to be confirmed (today we think!), Williams find themselves publicly driverless for 2022 and won’t want to wait too long to get a deal done and announced, especially with a new Formula being introduced next year that is inevitably going to require more time and effort by both team and driver to get up to speed.
The longer team and driver have to prepare for the 2022 Formula 1 season, the better it will be for everyone.
So whether it’s Albon, Hulkenberg or my pick Formula E Champion Nyck De Vries – Williams will want to get it done ASAP – if it isn’t already.
Maybe the announcement will come once the inevitable George Russell/Mercedes media saturation passes so Williams can create a bit of a buzz of their own rather than being a footnote on someone else’s news, but I don’t think we’ll have to wait too long.
EDIT: The news has now been confirmed – #GR63 will join Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes for 2022