Hamilton 'absolutely neutral' as Mercedes to decide 2022 teammate in the summer

Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

Lewis Hamilton is "absolutely neutral" when it comes to who his teammate will be at Mercedes in 2022, Toto Wolff says.

Last weekend, it was announced the seven-time world champion had signed a new two-year deal with the Brackley-based team until the end of 2023.

While that was largely expected, there remains great speculation as to whether Mercedes will stick with Valtteri Bottas for another year or promote junior driver George Russell from Williams.

“We always said we wanted to give it the next few races to gain more clarity," Wolff said in Austria.

Also Read:

"I'm also happy because Valtteri’s racing in Austria, in my opinion, was really good and he needs to consolidate that.

“He’s a known factor, and in the same way, we know the strengths and weaknesses of George.

“That decision is going to be made during the summer, first discussions with George and Valtteri and then hopefully we are sorted before the end of the season."

While Bottas had a stronger run of races over the tripleheader, Russell was more impressive, running well in the points in both races in Austria as well as making Q3 for the first time with Williams on the second weekend.

“He performed very well already last week and then only the problem that we had with the PU stopped Williams scoring solid points,” Wolff noted. “And that’s a shame because in a way we let them down.

“Here again today, his qualifying performance was optimum in the top 10 and I guess that he can perform equally well in the race. He’s not only quick but he’s also gentle to the tyres. 

“He’s doing what is expected of him, or maybe even a little bit more.”

Another factor potentially in the Mercedes decision is Hamilton, who has previously voiced strong support for keeping Bottas as his teammate.

However, Wolff insists the Briton would work equally as well with Russell.

“I think for Lewis it’s not important," the Austrian stated. “He obviously really enjoys being with Valtteri, but equally he sees George coming up as an interesting candidate for the future, so he is absolutely neutral to whoever sits in the second car.

"I think the sheer fact of having a competitor, a team and a driver that challenges him and challenges us is all the more fun,” he added.

“And after seven years of success, difficult years with Ferrari where we had to stretch ourselves and now a very different challenge, bearing in mind the regulation change for next year.

“I can tell you the ambience and the mindset in the briefing room is so much fun like we haven’t had for many years.”