Max Verstappen and George Russell tipped to replace Lewis Hamilton in huge Mercedes shift
F1: Can Lewis Hamilton do it again?
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Lewis Hamilton will not be driving for Mercedes next season with both Max Verstappen and George Russell teaming up at the Silver Arrows for 2022. That’s the opinion of McLaren CEO Zak Brown, who believes the bigger question lies on what Red Bull will do next year.
Hamilton’s contract situation dominated the off season in F1 circles following months of negotiations.
There was growing speculation that the 36-year-old may have looked at leaving the sport altogether but that was soon squashed when it was announced that he would sign a one-year extension.
That only raised more questions though on Hamilton’s long-term future in the sport and whether or not it hinted that he was thinking of walking away next year.
Mercedes are the favourites to retain their Constructors’ Championship this season with Hamilton looking to claim the all-time record of most world titles.
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Brown fully expects the British racing superstar to win his eighth championship and believes that will see him walk away from F1.
And the McLaren chief believes Mercedes will also look to move on from Valtteri Bottas by looking to bring in both Russell and Verstappen.
When asked whether he thought Verstappen and Russell would team up at Mercedes next year, Brown told the Daily Mail: “Yes, I think you will see Max and George there in 2022.
“I think that is the obvious conclusion. Lewis wins title No 8 this year and is the winningest driver (most successful) in every category; they have a one-year deal with him.
“George is coming out of his deal and Max has a deal he comes out of.
“You have Max’s experience and youth, you have George’s youth. If I am Mercedes that is a pretty killer line-up for the next five years.
“The interesting thing is what do Red Bull do? That’s a harder one to answer. It’s tough for them. Everyone is locked down.
“And Lewis has spent his entire career with Mercedes, either through the works team or with McLaren and I think as Michael Schumacher was fundamentally a Ferrari man — though he ended up with Mercedes — Lewis has this opportunity to be a career Mercedes man so I don’t know why he would move.”
Russell is out of contract with Williams at the end of the season and has already driven for Mercedes after stepping in for Hamilton at the Sakhir Grand Prix.
Toto Wolff has tried to play down speculation on Russell’s possible move to Mercedes.
But Verstappen’s situation at Red Bull is reportedly based on a performance-based clause in his contract.
The Dutchman’s deal runs until 2023, but it is said that he can cancel that contract if Red Bull fail to deliver him a car capable of challenging for the title.
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