‘Driving for Mercedes is hypothetical… for now’, says George Russell

F1

George Russell and Valtteri Bottas weren't giving much away about their F1 futures in Belgium as decision could be delayed until September

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Neither gave much away but Russell looked more comfortable than Bottas facing questions over their futures

George Russell and Valtteri Bottas have said that they have “no news to share” over their F1 futures and the question of which one will be at Mercedes in 2022.

Both drivers have been in discussions with the team over the summer break, and a decision on next year’s line-up had been expected to be announced ahead of this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix.

In a press conference ahead of the race, neither driver was willing to reveal if they knew what that decision was. “There’s no news to share. I don’t need to clarify any reasons for that,” said Bottas.

Russell said that talks did indeed take place over the summer but was not drawn on which way the Mercedes team was looking to go, adding that he had no issues over the delay to a public announcement.

“No news to share at this stage. Obviously [there were] 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 which is I think it’s no problem,” he said.

“Everything is: do things right rather than quickly.”

The Finn looked less comfortable answering questions than the vocal Williams driver, with both choosing their words carefully when discussing their futures.

Both were asked if talks had impacted upon their personal relationships out of the spotlight but neither was drawn in to specifics.

“Our personal relationship is fine, obviously we are competitors, and it’s rare that to Formula 1 drivers or two competitors are best friends but you know, grown ups,” Russell said.

“We’ve moved on from the past and there’s no issues from my side.”

Bottas has only ever been on a one-year contract since arrriving at Mercedes in 2017 in place of Nico Rosberg.

The Finn has signed consecutive single-year deals to remain alongside Hamilton at the team but the longer term picture has always pointed to a promotion for 2018 F2 champion Russell.

Despite the continued speculation and lack of clarity, at least outwardly, Bottas says the situation is not an issue for him, claiming that he was still fully-focused on the title fight with Red Bull for the next few races.

“From my side, it is not problematic. It’s nothing new for me so the situation overall, I’m fine with it completely,” he explained.

“Really [it’s] heads down and focus for the weekend. I’m pretty sure like the next three weeks that will definitely fly by with a triple header and we’ve a pretty good battle on our hands as a team so that’s the main focus, things eventually will will sort themselves out.”

Despite the lack of confirmation over either driver’s futures, Russell cut the more relaxed figure as both faced questions alongside one another.

Both drivers insisted there was no issues between either of them behind-the-scenes despite the public knowledge they are in direct battle for the vacant ’22 seat.

A buoyant Russell was open in explaining his answers while in contrast, Bottas’s remained brief and focused attention elsehwere.

“I think we’re both fortunate that we were both sort of looked after in ways by by Mercedes and we trust them to look after our futures, one way or another,” Russell said of the situation.

“Speaking for myself, there is no real problems and whether it’s tomorrow whether it’s after Abu Dhabi, I guess you have to trust the people who are looking out for you.”

He also admitted he has thought about challenging and racing against his prospective team-mate already.

Russell said that while the situation remained hypothetical, he was eager to battle the likes of Hamilton at the sharp end of the grid.

“Any driver wants to go against the best and obviously Lewis is probably the greatest of all time so you want to put yourself against and see how you fare,” Russell admitted.

“Equally, [it’s] an honour for  anybody to get the opportunity. That’s obviously all hypothetical at the moment.

“My comments are the same as they were three years ago. If I could pick anybody as my team-mate, Lewis would be the one.”