Mercedes-Benz makes a significant decline. As Toto Wolff mulls about Valtteri Bottas’ axe, George Russell drops a hint.
On Tuesday, George Russell will test for Mercedes amid speculation that he could replace Valtteri Bottas in the team.
On Tuesday, George Russell will test a Mercedes with 2022-spec tyres in Hungary, amid rumours that the British driver may replace Valtteri Bottas as Lewis Hamilton’s team-mate for the world champions from next year.
The Williams driver, a Mercedes junior racer, will take to the track in a Mercedes with 18-inch tyres rather than the usual 13-inch rubber.
Formula One is introducing a slew of new rules for the 2019 season, including larger tyre sizes, to make it easier for cars to follow and overtake one another and improve race quality.
Mercedes, together with Ferrari and McLaren, will support tyre suppliers Pirelli by strapping the 2022 tyres to a W12 and driving around Budapest on Tuesday.
Russell will be driving instead of Hamilton or Bottas, giving a new indication of where he will be next season.
Russell tested for Mercedes in Hungary in 2017 and drove for the Silver Arrows uncompetitively in Bahrain and Abu Dhabi two years ago.
Last season, he replaced a Covid-affected Hamilton at the Sakhir Grand Prix in Bahrain, finishing P9 despite the fact that he could have won the race had it not been for a team pitstop error and a puncture.
The 23-year-old is in line to be promoted to Mercedes full-time for next year after scoring his first ever F1 points with Williams at the Hungarian Grand Prix last Sunday, where he also finished ninth.
Before the Belgian Grand Prix in Spa on Sunday, August 29, a decision is anticipated to be taken during the summer break.
Toto Wolff, the Mercedes team principal, is debating whether to extend Bottas’ Silver Arrows contract for a sixth season or to shake things up by bringing in Russell, who has excelled for Williams in qualifying but has been let down by poorer race pace on Sundays.
Hamilton has won the World Championship in each of his four full seasons with Bottas, and Mercedes hasn’t finished second in the Constructors’ Championship since 2013.
Bottas, on the other hand, is currently on 108 points, 87 points behind teammate and championship leader Hamilton, and there.