There has been a great deal of speculation regarding the future of both Mercedes drivers ahead of the 2021 season. Both Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas currently have a year left on their contracts and a host of drivers have been linked with the Mercedes seat.
Hamilton, for one, may want to establish a career outside the sport, having previously claimed that he has other interests.
Bottas, meanwhile, has not set the stage alight during his time at Mercedes.
This has led McLaren boss Zak Brown to claim that the Silver Arrows will have a completely new driver line-up in the 2022 season.
“I think you will see Max [Verstappen] and George [Russell] there in 2022,” Brown said.
“You have Max’s experience and youth, you have George’s youth. If I am Mercedes, that is a pretty killer line-up for the next five years.”
Brown further added that Hamilton will not be targeted by his team. While the British driver won his maiden Formula 1 world championship with McLaren in 2008, Brown said he is satisfied with his current line-up.
“Where we are today, no – because we are really happy with Daniel [Ricciardo] and Lando [Norris] and have them under long term contracts.
“If you brought Lewis back now it would be for a one or two year journey and we know we are not ready to compete for championships.
“We need to set up a driver line-up that gets us to that position and that when we reach it they are ready.
“Daniel is ready now, of course. I don’t think the timing is right for Lewis.”
Mercedes has had its share of struggles during pre-season testing in Bahrain, but team boss Toto Wolff has spoken about the team potentially surprising everyone with a new innovation.
This struggle has also been termed as a case of sandbagging, and many in and around the paddock believe Mercedes is still the team to beat despite not looking up to speed in Bahrain.
Former head of motorsport activity at Mercedes, Norbert Haug, agrees with this sentiment.
“When Toto says they drove the heaviest car of the whole winter test, I think they were sandbagging. Still, Red Bull Racing is looking very strong,” Haug said.
“It’s certainly the case that it didn’t go the way Mercedes would have liked. But you know what they say, right? A bad test means a good race day performance.
“Mercedes can also stumble from time to time, although the chances are very small I must say.”