The Formula 1 silly season appears to be starting very early this year, with both Valtteri Bottas and George Russell expecting their 2022 contracts to be sorted out by the end of the summer.

Mercedes driver Bottas has been receiving a lot of criticism for being unable to challenge teammate Lewis Hamilton, and speculations are rising that he will end up losing his seat. Team Principal Toto Wolff has always defended the Finn, but his stance appears to have changed this year when F1 fans and commentators started to notice him favouring Hamilton more heavily than before.

Meanwhile, Williams driver George Russell, who is in the Mercedes driver development program, stirred things up last year after a stellar performance while subbing for a Covid-stricken Hamilton in Bahrain. He is being touted to swap seats with Bottas, and he appears confident that he is a threat to the veteran when he boldly accused the Finn of being too aggressive against him when they crashed at Imola earlier this season.

At that time, Wolff slammed Russell for his behaviour and even threatened to send him to race at the Renault Clio Cup. Russell has since apologised and things appear to be back on track for the young Briton.

The latest report from Planet F1 has suggested that Russell has already been told that he will take the wheel of the Mercedes next season. Publications from Germany and Italy have apparently reported that Wolff has already told Russell's camp about the move.

While these are all unverified reports for now, the official Formula 1 website has confirmed that both drivers will likely have their contracts settled in the next few weeks. Meanwhile, Red Bull Racing advisor Dr. Helmut Marko is convinced that the driver swap is a done deal. He also believes that Bottas really has no option but to return to Williams, or risk being left out of a drive altogether.

"I can only imagine a swap with Russell. I think Williams will be the only option for him," he said, ruling out the possibility of a Red Bull seat for the Finn. Interestingly, he also said that reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton won't be happy to have Russell join him at Mercedes.

George Russell
Man for Mercedes? Williams' driver George Russell AFP / William WEST