Word on the beat, September 2021

Bottas or Russell? Race roundabouts and more: behind the scenes in F1

George Russell

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Following Lewis Hamilton’s new Mercedes contract to 2023, speculation has ramped up about the identity of his team-mate next year. Toto Wolff has confirmed that it is a straight choice between Valtteri Bottas and George Russell, above, and that a decision would be taken “in the summer”. If Russell is chosen (as widely expected), Bottas’ options for 2022 would be either a return to Williams as Russell’s replacement or a move to the Alfa Romeo Sauber team which is expected to retain only one of its current drivers. Most likely Antonio Giovinazzi.

The Turkish Grand Prix has re-appeared on this year’s calendar, this time in the slot previously occupied by the cancelled Singapore slot. The Turkish race was originally a late-notice replacement for the cancelled Canadian GP but was then itself cancelled for Covid reasons. The Australian GP, due to take place on November 21, has been cancelled for similar reasons, leading to speculation that its place might be taken by a Chinese Grand Prix.

Christian horner

The Russian GP is set to switch from Sochi to Igora Drive (50 miles from St Petersburg towards the Finnish border) at a purpose-built track from 2023. The Hermann Tilke-designed circuit is already in operation but will receive an extension to take the lap to a little over three miles.

A meeting of the F1 engine manufacturers to discuss the engine format for 2025 and beyond took place in Austria. As well as existing brands, VW and Porsche were represented. Nothing has been established so far other than the new unit will again be a hybrid. Red Bull’s Christian Horner, above, is leading an initiative to delay the new engine’s introduction to 2026.

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