Are you feeling sufficiently rested after Formula 1's summer break? Personally, I felt like it was here and gone in a flash, maybe because there was MotoGP weirdness to tide me over in the interim, and then Le Mans happened. The perception of time was also likely impacted by the fact we’re evidently no closer to knowing who the hell Mercedes plans to partner with Lewis Hamilton next season.
F1 likes to pair up drivers for pre-race press conferences, and wouldn’t you know it, they paired up Valtteri Bottas and George Russell to sit in front of the media ahead of this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix. Bottas quashed all rumors, saying “there’s nothing to share yet,” according to Sky Sports. He then expounded upon that in a way that only prompted more questions, as racing drivers have a habit of doing, adding “Who knows. Maybe I know something, maybe I don’t.”
George Russell echoed Bottas’ initial answer, while offering a timeframe for when the team might actually announce its decision:
“No news to share at this stage,” said the Briton.
“Obviously in discussions over the summer break but there’s nothing to announce one way or another this weekend and probably not next weekend either, to be honest.
“It’s no problem. Do things right rather than quickly, let’s say.”
Of course, I’d imagine Bottas would be a little less eager to discuss these matters than Russell. Worst case scenario for Russell, he spends another year or two with Williams, which would definitely suck but you know he’s eventually destined for a Silver Arrow seat. Worst case for Bottas, he winds up at Alfa Romeo or a similar team puttering around in the back half of the grid. Faced with that possibility, he might just up and quit the sport. I wouldn’t blame him.
If you’re curious about where Hamilton stands on all of this, the seven-time champ says he’ll support whatever the team decides is best. That said, Bottas’ continued tenure would seem to be the option less threatening to Hamilton’s hopes for another title, while throwing a hotshot in there like Russell could rock the boat.
All these questions will be answered in time, and perhaps some of us were foolish to think they’d be settled by now. But F1 needs its storylines. After the drama of the Verstappen/Hamilton crash and how the Red Bull driver eventually responded to repeated questions about it, I wouldn’t have been surprised if Bottas just up and walked out of the interview.