The Mercedes F1 Team has decided to drop Valtteri Bottas and replace him with George Russell, but the move won’t be announced until much later in the season, according to Finnish racing driver Toni Vilander.
Russell is currently into his third season in Formula 1 with Williams, and many in the paddock believe he will join Mercedes in 2022, with Bottas potentially returning to his former team to take the young Brit’s seat.
Bottas is currently fifth in the Drivers’ Standing due to a combination of bad luck and poor pace at some of the grand prix contested so far this season.
Russell, on the other hand, has been in great form – and he nearly scored his first points for Williams last time out at the Austrian Grand Prix.
Speaking this week, Vilander said he believes Bottas’ Mercedes career is over, but he expects the Silver Arrows to delay the announcement in a bid to stop the Finnish F1 driver’s motivation and morale from plummeting.
“It’s game over [for Bottas],” Vilander said.
“It is not good for Valtteri to be informed at such an early stage that he will not continue.
“[Sebastian] Vettel was quite a fiasco on Ferrari last season after it was announced at the beginning of the season that there was no new contract coming up.”
Continuing, he said that it makes sense for Mercedes to sign Russell now as they need a new superstar driver to battle for Championships once Sir Lewis Hamilton retires.
“It is perceived that Hamilton’s two-year contract is his last with the team, in which case the next champion has to be raised so that the success story can continue,” he concluded.