George Russell’s mouth-watering move to partner Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes will finally be announced this week.
The PA news agency understands that Valtteri Bottas’ Silver Arrows departure could be confirmed as early as Monday.
Bottas, the 32-year-old Finn, a nine-time winner, will join Alfa Romeo – replacing the retiring Kimi Raikkonen – with Russell’s Mercedes transfer to follow soon after, possibly on Tuesday, ahead of this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix.
Nico Rosberg, the 2016 world champion, claimed on Sky Sports that Netflix’s Drive to Survive camera crew were invited to film Russell signing his new contract with Toto Wolff inside the team’s motorhome in Zandvoort on Sunday night. Mercedes have denied their former driver’s claim.
Russell’s move to take up the hottest seat in Formula One will see him form an intriguing all-British line-up with Hamilton, 36.
His elevation comes after three seasons with Williams, and a hugely impressive stand-in display for a Covid-hit Hamilton in Bahrain last December.
Russell, from Kings Lynn, also produced a memorable qualifying lap to put his uncompetitive Williams on the front row of the grid for last month’s Belgian Grand Prix, duly taking second, following the two-lap race run behind the safety car.
Hamilton has spoken repeatedly of his preference for Bottas – who replaced Rosberg in 2017 – to stay – but the Mercedes hierarchy appear to be looking to the future by hiring Russell.
Dutchman Max Verstappen suggested the 23-year-old’s arrival at the Silver Arrows will “make life very difficult” for Hamilton.
But, in response, the seven-time world champion said: “I don’t feel I have anything to prove.
“I have raced against some incredible drivers as team-mates, including Fernando Alonso in my rookie year.
“There will be things we learn from one another and it is important respect is always there. Communication is at the core of that. George being British will help.”
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