F1: George Russell hikes during the off-season
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Valtteri Bottas’ place in F1 might be in jeopardy if Mercedes choose to replace him with George Russell in 2022. The assumption had been that the Finn would return to Williams if he was replaced by the Silver Arrows hierarchy, but a report from Italy claims team principal Jost Capito has his eye on someone else should he need to fill a seat.
It is expected Nicholas Latifi will keep his seat at Williams next year, but high-profile speculation remains around whether or not Russell will be bumped up to Mercedes.
The saga is the main event of F1’s silly season, with Bottas, Russell, Toto Wolff and everyone else at Mercedes remaining tight-lipped on the situation.
If Bottas does end up in need of a new seat in 2022, he might struggle to find one at Williams.
The Italian version of Motorsport.com claims Capito is eyeing up Red Bull’s Alexander Albon as his first-choice should he need to replace Russell, with Christian Horner keen to get the British-Thai driver back into the sport.
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Both Williams and Alfa Romeo had been offered the 25-year-old for 2022, with the driver himself also desperate to find a drive for next season.
He told Formula 1: “F1 moves relatively quickly. More than a year out, the car gets tricky. A year’s break is as much as you can do. That’s what Esteban [Ocon] did. Fernando [Alonso] is a different example, but Fernando is Fernando!
“The car evolves so quickly, technology is improving. There isn’t a series out there that is close to F1. You can’t jump around and do different things.
“So it’s one year [out] maximum. A lot of the push now is making sure I can do everything I can and also being active myself, looking around, seeing what is out there for me.”
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Red Bull closed the door on a return to their lineup when they handed Sergio Perez another contract to race alongside Max Verstappen, but Horner insisted their reserve driver is still an important cog in their machine.
With both Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi out of contract at the end of the current season, Alfa could be a viable option for Albon in 2022.
But it’s Williams who are said to have made him their prime target as a Russell replacement, with Formula E champion Nyck de Vries and Alpine youth driver Guanyu Zhou also being considered.
Albon is considering a switch to IndyCar racing if his F1 career continues to stutter, after taking part in the DTM series in 2021.
If he is thrown that lifeline by Williams, it might be Bottas who has to consider his future in the sport.
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