F1: Lewis Hamilton goes cross-country skiing
The future is uncertain for Mercedes, with Lewis Hamilton yet to agree a deal for the forthcoming 2021 season. It also remains to be seen who will drive for the Silver Arrows in 2022, with George Russell linked with a seat.
Amid all the negotiations currently taking place at Mercedes, there’s no arguing over who the main man at the team is.
And surely it’s only a matter of time until Hamilton’s new contract is announced, ahead of F1’s pre-season winter tests which take place in March.
Although the length of the Briton’s new deal is yet to be formally agreed, it’s understood he’s holding out for at least two years.
Should Hamilton stay with the Silver Arrows beyond this season, where he can surpass Michael Schumacher with a record eighth world championship, it would potentially mean a new team-mate.
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Mercedes are expected to replace Valtteri Bottas at the end of the campaign, with the Finn yet to deliver the required results at the all-conquering team.
Bottas has nine wins since joining Mercedes as Nico Rosberg’s replacement in 2017 but he has consistently failed to truly challenge Hamilton.
But Hamilton is seemingly happy with the current set-up and recently praised Bottas for being one of the most mentally resilient drivers in Formula 1.
Speaking last season, he said: “When I talk about people need to give Valtteri his due respect, I think you’ve got to remember who he’s driving up against; it’s not easy being my team mate, you know?”
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“But he comes in, weekend in weekend out, with the same mentality.
“He’s never moaning, complaining that… something’s wrong with the car, it’s always ‘I’ve got to do a better job’, and I don’t know any driver that does that.
“I think that’s something we share in common: We come into this weekend with a fresh head, and I think mentally, he’s one of the strongest drivers here.
“I think Valtteri… is getting stronger and stronger each year. The media have commented on the [Bottas] 2.0 etc, and every year you can see him just grafting away and chipping away at trying to raise the bar in so many different areas.
“And you’ve seen this year, I think, whilst the points gap now is where it is, if you look at a lot of qualifying, it was the smallest of margins.
“So closing the gap in qualifying he has done already, which has made it quite challenging.
“And naturally you can see the consistency I’ve had this year is what’s made the difference but if you look on the weekends it was so close.”
Indeed, those comments certainly pile the pressure on the driver who will replace Bottas at Mercedes.
It seems more than likely that Russell will be the man to do so, given the Briton’s hugely-impressive debut for the Silver Arrows at last season’s Sakhir Grand Prix.
Russell, 22, is in the final season of his three-year loan spell with Williams and, as long as he continues his progress, will be Mercedes’ No.1 pick to replace the Finn.
And Hamilton’s recent comments have laid out the expectations for the youngster. No pressure, then.
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