With 2 weeks to go to F1 testing at the Bahrain International Circuit on March 12-14, the 2021 Mercedes driver lineup is already fixed. 7-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton will be partnering 9-time Grand Prix Winner Valterri Bottas at the Silver Arrows. However, team boss Toto Wolff talked to Speed Week about possible new driver pairings at the Brackley-based team beyond 2021. He named two well-established F1 drivers as possible candidates for the most coveted two seats in motorsport.
Written by Sage Hou, Edited by Tanishka Vashee
“Esteban (Ocon) is in the second year of a two-year contract with Renault which was rebranded as Alpine F1and George (Russell) is with Williams this year,” said Wolff.
“So we have some options for 2022, but until then our full support goes to Valtteri and Lewis. We will evaluate in the middle of the year whether there will be a change in 2022.”
“It is definitely too early now to talk about scenarios for 2022.” He added.
F1 fans have seen glimpses of George Russell’s talent. Most notably, his drive in a Mercedes at the Sakhir Grand Prix, and his stunning unbeaten qualifying record at Williams. Russell’s performances F1 give fans reason to be excited for the possibility of a young Brit in a race winning car.
George Russell heartbroken after losing the win due to a puncture at the Sakhir GP
F1 fans have also seen a peek of Esteban Ocon’s ability. The Frenchman qualified 3rd at the 2017 Italian GP and the 2018 Belgian GP in a Force India. We saw another moment of brilliance from the Frenchmen when he navigated a difficult Sakhir GP to finish in second. Despite these achievements, most F1 fans would still describe Ocon to be the worse of the two Mercedes-linked drivers. Daniel Ricciardo and Sergio Perez both thoroughly outperformed the Frenchman at Renault and Force India. His new teammate, 2-time World Champion Fernando Alonso will be the ultimate test for the young Frenchman.
7-Time World Champion Lewis Hamilton congratulating Esteban Ocon for qualifying P3 at Spa in 2018
The prospect of a driver lineup refresh at Mercedes F1 team is something to look out for in 2022. The possible driver pairing of Esteban Ocon and George Russell will be an exciting prospect for all F1 fans.