While Lewis Hamilton was yet to sign a deal with Mercedes, plenty of rumours were doing the rounds that the team was willing to consider George Russell for a spot.
It has now been reported by F1 Insider that the German team is set to monitor the progress of Russell at Williams.
Mercedes has not had it all its own way during pre season. Their power units are reportedly giving them some grief. The head of their engine division Hywel Thomas has confirmed that there have been some hiccups. However, he remains confident they will be able to rectify any problems before the start of the season.
While four teams will now be receiving power from Mercedes, the team’s technology director Mike Elliot believes Red Bull will be the team’s greatest challenger.
The fact that Red Bull has signed Sergio Perez has led to the belief that they will be a much stronger outfit this year. The Mexican has a wealth of experience in Formula 1, having been in the sport for a last decade.
“They (Red Bull) will be our strongest opposition and I think in Verstappen they have a very good driver,” Elliot said.
“I think Perez will be a strong second driver to him for scoring points when Verstappen doesn’t or supporting in their bid for the constructors’ championship.”
Elliot also felt that Ferrari cannot ever be taken too lightly.
“If you look at the key drivers, [Charles] Leclerc is obviously a really good driver. It’s going to be interesting to see how [Sebastian] Vettel gets on at Aston Martin, see whether he can reignite his career.”
He went on to claim that Russell will also be monitored very closely.
“Most Mercedes people, as well as looking at our drivers, probably would also follow what George [Russell] is doing at Williams.”
With three drivers without a contract at the end of this season, it will be interesting to see how Mercedes plays this.
It remains unclear exactly what Hamilton wants to do in the future. There will always be mystery around his future in the sport. Bottas, meanwhile, has underperformed.
Russell was impressive when he deputised for Hamilton at the Bahrain Grand Prix last season.
While Russell might present the most cost-effective option for the team, their constant link with Red Bull driver Max Verstappen is tough to ignore.