Lewis Hamilton is expected to stay with Mercedes for 2022 season and team principal Toto Wolff is mulling over whether to axe Valtteri Bottas for George Russell. Speculation surrounding the second Silver Arrows seat will likely rumble on late into the year but former F1 driver Paul di Resta reckons Hamilton will have a preference on who will be racing alongside him.
Hamilton is out of contract at the end of the season but both he and Mercedes would like to continue their partnership.
That leaves question marks hanging over who will be driving alongside the seven-time world champion.
Bottas has failed to challenge Hamilton for the world title over the last few years so Wolff is considering switching things up.
Youngster Russell deputised for a Covid-stricken Hamilton at the Sakhir Grand Prix last season and thoroughly impressed.
However, Di Resta reckons Hamilton would prefer Mercedes to stick with what they have.
“Yes, George is ambitious. Yes, he’s probably the future of Mercedes Benz. But that’s where the decision becomes incredibly hard for Toto,” Di Resta told Sky Sports F1.
“I’m sure Lewis doesn’t want the foundations of that team to change because it’s won world championships, it’s won Constructors’ Championships, for a very good reason.
“And when you see the performance of Mr Hamilton on a day like today, if you’ve got anything that’s gonna doubt that do you take that away?
“I think Lewis if he’s wise, will probably give Valtteri a lot of support, and show the team that he is a team player, absolutely a team player.”
Hamilton took an eight-point lead at the top of the Drivers’ Championship with victory at the Portuguese Grand Prix on Sunday.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen crossed the chequered flag in second place, 30 second behind the leads.
Bottas came home in third, cementing another strong haul of points for Mercedes in the Constructors’ Championship.
Wolff was asked last week if his 2022 driver line-up had become any clearer but he is still uncertain.
“I hope one day I wake up and it becomes clear,” the Austrian explained.
“I think we need to look into the season, how the next races unfold, and then it is a judgment call, I believe. Not a very scientific response, but I haven’t got any at the moment.”
Perhaps his main priority should be trying to tie Hamilton down to a longer deal.
When asked if their partnership will continue next year, Wolff said: “Yes, there is no reason why not.
“It’s the best place to be. He has been with us a long time and I think as long as we can provide the outlook for a competitive package, I see no reason why we shouldn’t be together and continue the marriage.”