Mercedes told they should have picked Lando Norris over George Russell for 2022 seat
George Russell joins Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes
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Joylon Palmer and Jack Nicholls both claim that Mercedes would have been wise to go for Lando Norris in their second seat for 2022. George Russell will instead make the step up from Williams in a hotly-anticipated switch, but Norris’ superb performances last season have clearly drawn plaudits and curiosity to see what he could achieve in a title-chasing car.
With an upturn in form towards the end of the season, Valtteri Bottas helped Mercedes towards an eighth consecutive Constructors’ crown in 2021.
Unfortunately for the Silver Arrows, it was not enough to help Lewis Hamilton on his way to individual honours as the Brit was agonisingly pipped to the title by Max Verstappen.
Barely anything has been heard from the seven-time world champion since the Abu Dhabi showdown, and team boss Toto Wolff refused to rule out his retirement.
But one thing that is certain is Russell’s place with Mercedes, even if some believe that they would have been wise to opt for another of the sport’s rising stars.
“If I’m Mercedes and I have a free choice in that second seat alongside Hamilton, I think I’m picking Norris over Russell after this year,” Nicholls told the F1: Chequered Flag podcast.
“I’m going with Jack on it, I’m going with Lando,” agreed Joylon Palmer.
“The way that he held off Lewis Hamilton at the end of that Sochi race until the strategy and the tyre choice got away from him, was unbelievable.
“For a guy that has never won a race, to have a seven-time World Champion breathing down his neck in a Mercedes…
“Then it starts raining, and he’s still off the road a couple of times, scrabbling around, but keeping Hamilton, we all know how good he is in the wet, behind him.
“It was really legendary stuff I think from Norris.”
Indeed, Norris’ first win eluded him during the 2021 season, even after going painfully close in Sochi before the rain turned the contest on its head.
But a famous McLaren one-two finish in Monza was just one of the 22-year-old’s higlights in a year which saw him pipped to fifth place in the Drivers’ Championship by Carlos Sainz.
While Palmer and Nicholls both believe that Norris could be a success with the Silver Arrows, it is clear that the Englishman’s loyalties lie with McLaren.
As recently as May 2021, Norris put pen to paper on a multi-year contract which is likely to keep him there for the foreseeable future.
“My goal is to win races and world championships and over the last three years McLaren have shown me that they’re able to build a car for me to do that in,” he wrote.
“I had my first podium with McLaren and I’ll have my first win with McLaren. Let’s continue what we started.”
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