Sky Sports F1 experts predict Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas and George Russell decision

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Sky Sports’ F1 experts were discussing who will partner Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes next season – and George Russell was the unanimous favourite. Formula 1 returns from its four-week summer break this weekend, with the Belgian Grand Prix on Sunday the first of three successive weeks of action.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen appeared to be in control of the title race, but a retirement at Silverstone and a ninth-place finish at the Hungaroring saw the Dutchman surrender the lead to Lewis Hamilton.

Hamilton has an eight-point lead going into Spa on Sunday, but rumours have been swirling regarding the Brit’s partner at Mercedes for 2022.

Toto Wolff is believed to be making the decision between Valtteri Bottas and Williams’ George Russell – and Paul di Resta believes the young British racer deserves the call-up. 

“I think it’s going to be George Russell based on the press conference yesterday,” di Resta said. 

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“Body language said he’s comfortable in the position he is in, he’s obviously had good discussions over the summer – but would you imbalance Lewis Hamilton, who is Mercedes’ biggest asset?”

Martin Brundle went next, and he explained why Wolff may be taking so long to make the decision public knowledge before also picking Russell.

“It’s the decision that all the team bosses hate,” Brundle added.

“In the end, the buck stops with them and they have to live with that decision for a season or two and that’s why they hold on. 

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“Great team bosses like Ron Dennis always made the decision at the last possible moment because why take it any earlier than you contractually have to, because this is a very fast-moving business.

“Two weeks is a very long time in Formula 1, but in the end I think George Russell will get the seat.”

Former F1 driver Karun Chandhok agreed, picking Russell due to his long-term potential as a star of the sport.

“Lewis has signed a new two-year deal – they have got to look at what happens beyond that two-year contract. 

“He will be 38 at that time, it could be his last contract and I think they’re looking at who is going to be their number one driver in two years time. Is it going to be Bottas? I’m not sure. 

“Could it be Russell? Yes and he could have two years as an understudy to Lewis, learning the ropes from him, so I think it’s going to be George.”

David Croft was more philosophical about it, pointing out that no matter who gets selected, the answer won’t become clear until several years from now. 

Croft did go on to pick Russell, completing a clean sweep across Sky Sports’ experts in favour of the 23-year-old.

“Only time will tell us if it’s the right decision or not, and that’s what Toto Wolff hasn’t got: time on his hands to look into the future and see what’s going to happen two years down the line. 

“I think it’s going to be George Russell, but the debate is: is that the right decision? 

“For all the conversations we’ve had and are going to have now, there are pros and cons on both sides of the debate – and I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer about this. 

“There’s only a decision that has to be made or might already have been made.”

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