The driver’s market has been generating a lot of buzz of late. With Lewis Hamilton extending his contract with Mercedes for another two years, all eyes are in the second seat.
Who will partner with Hamilton? Will Mercedes stick with Valtteri Bottas, who has shared a garage with Hamilton since 2017? Or will they replace him with young and untapped talent in George Russell?
Toto Wolff has decided to keep us in the dark till after the summer break. But that doesn’t stop one from speculating about what could happen.
Formula One F1 – Austrian Grand Prix – Red Bull Ring, Spielberg, Styria, Austria – July 4, 2021 Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton during the race REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger
There has also been talk of Alpha R0meo‘s Kimi Raikkonen retiring at the end of the season. The 41-year-old has made comments about the physical exertions of the sport and his desire to settle down for something a little more slow-paced.
The possibility of Raikkonen’s retirement brings along the prospects of Bottas replacing his compatriot at Alpha Romeo. F1 reporter Dieter Rencken analyzes the possibility of Finnish continuity at the team.
Why might Raikkonen leave?
The 2007 champion is the most experienced driver in formula one history. In conversation with a newspaper in Spain, he talks about the physical setbacks of F1 today. The only thing he enjoys is racing.
“I like to race, but it doesn’t just involve racing. If I could come to the track, take part in the race and that’s it, it would be perfect. I want to spend as much time as possible with my family.”
Alpha Romeo Team Principal, Frederic Vasseur also discusses how Antonio Giovinazzi has improved as a driver and no longer has to look to Raikkonen for leadership.
Rencken puts forward a similar argument. Raikkonen’s age and the speed demanded from the sport may not be compatible right now.
BARCELONA, SPAIN -Kimi Raikkonen of Finland and Alfa Romeo Racing looks on at the roll out of the Alfa Romeo Racing C39 Ferrari during day one of Formula 1 Winter Testing at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Charles Coates/Getty Images)
The reporter analyzes the final lap incident between Kimi and Sebastian Vettel. “I wonder if, quite simply, Kimi’s mistake at the end of the race is not due to a physical drop.
“The Red Bull Ring is a circuit that tests the stamina of the drivers. The speeds are very high and maintaining them consistently with temperatures as high as last Sunday is not easy.”
The journalist had interviewed Kimi back in his rookie season and has since seen him grow. In what could be his empty seat at the end of this season, he sees another Finn, Valtteri Bottas.
Will Bottas lose his seat?
A question at the back of everyone’s mind. Bottas has been a promising second driver to Hamilton but hasn’t been having the best season so far.
Since Hamilton will be 38 years old by the end of his contract, Mercedes might want to induct a new driver to the team. Toto Wolff has been drawn to William’s driver George Russell, who has made a mark on the Team Principal after a stunning race in Sakhir last year. Many would place their bets against Bottas for this reason.
Rencken also believes that Valtteri’s relations with the Silver Arrows are at an all-time low. He concludes, “I have heard various rumors about Bottas’ name to replace Kimi in 2022 and I do not think it is as remote as it might seem.
“I believe that Valtteri has all the credentials to go to Alfa Romeo and become a symbol of it.”
It will be interesting to see if these rumors come to fruition by the end of the 2021 season. but till then, it’s nothing but a waiting game.
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