“Russell has two options at the end of this season”: Slater believes youngster should be optimistic

Formula 1 driver George Russell will not be racing for Mercedes this since given the fact that Lewis Hamilton has confirmed that he will stay with the team.

However, Hamilton has only signed a one-year extension. This means Russell has the potential of staking a claim for either seat next season. Valtteri Bottas, too, has only one year on his contract.

It is certainly good news for Russell, who must be eager to get a longer stint at Mercedes. He had deputised for Hamilton at the Bahrain Grand Prix last season.

2021 is also set to be Russell’s last season with Williams. His contract is set to expire at the end of the campaign.

Sky Sport’s Craig Slater believes Russell has a realistic chance of driving for Mercedes in the near future.

“With regards to George Russell, he’s still waiting in the wings,” he said.

“You have a situation now that you will have for that 2022 season. Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas and George Russell are all out of contract at Mercedes, which is interesting. But, as long as Mercedes have the kind of car they’ve had for the last few years, they will have no problems recruiting the driver they want.

“As far as Max Verstappen is concerned, he is contracted up to 2023 with Red Bull. George Russell now has maybe extra opportunity to get into that Mercedes seat in 2022 either if they don’t continue with Bottas or if Hamilton says ‘it’s eight, and I vacate’.”

Hamilton may stay for longer

Slater said the one-year deal worked out for both Mercedes and Hamilton.

“A senior figure at Mercedes expressed to me that both sides wanted flexibility of a year,” he said.

“That is interesting. In Lewis Hamilton’s case, if he wins his eighth World title at the age of 36, he is ahead of Formula 1’s statistics by every measure. He might wake up the next morning and decide he wants to do something else.

“As far as Hamilton and Mercedes are concerned, they have now dealt with 2021. This by no means means they will not continue to work together in 2022, that Lewis won’t continue his racing career with Mercedes.

“A lot of people will surprised that it is just one year. Lewis has talked previously about being very interested in the new generation of cars that begins in 2022. Don’t count him out staying with Mercedes for that new era,” he said.

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