The Formula 1 silly season is in full swing, and Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has confirmed that he has made a decision between Valtteri Bottas and George Russell. One of the two drivers is expected to drive beside Lewis Hamilton in the second Mercedes car next season, and it is a decision that all F1 fans have been waiting for.
While Wolff has confirmed the decision has been made, he did not yet announce what that actual decision is. Numerous media outlets have stepped in to present a theory, which could see multiple drivers moving.
The first scenario involves Williams driver George Russell finally moving up to the Mercedes team. After a stellar performance in 2020 and in this season so far, many are convinced that he will be promoted in 2022. Now, where does that leave Bottas? Some had predicted a straight swap, with Bottas returning to Williams. However, reports came out this weekend that Bottas is on his way to replace his fellow Finn Kimi Raikkonen at Alfa Romeo.
Raikkonen is believed to be headed for retirement, leaving the seat empty for Bottas. However, that leaves the Williams seat vacant. Alfa Romeo's reserve driver Calum Ilott is now being strongly linked to the Williams vacancy.
To make things slightly more confusing, Mercedes have just gifted Bottas with a brand new car, with some wondering if that Mercedes AMG Black Series came with a contract.
Many of the other seats have also been confirmed over the summer break, with Fernando Alonso signing a new deal with Alpine and Sergio Perez locking down the second Red Bull seat beside championship contender Max Verstappen.
While the Verstappen-Perez partnership appears to be working well, it remains to be seen if the Hamilton-Russell pair will also be harmonious. If Russell becomes Hamilton's teammate in 2022, Wolff will need to work hard to avoid friction reminiscent of the Nico Rosberg days.
23-year-old Russell may be a junior in the Mercedes driver program, but he has shown in the past year that he isn't one to simply roll over. Wolff knows that he will have to handle things carefully for the sake of all his drivers.
"We just need to manage it well, and manage the situation well with whoever driver is not going to be in a Mercedes next year and make sure there is an exciting programme and on the other side manage the situation internally like we've always had with Nico [Rosberg] and with George," Wolff said.