Toto Wolff says the decision to who would partner Lewis Hamilton at the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team was not an easy one to make, but ultimately, they have chosen George Russell over Valtteri Bottas for the 2022 season.
Wolff, the Team Principal at Mercedes, has thanked Bottas for his efforts during his five years with the team, with the Finn having taken nine wins, seventeen pole positions and fifty-four podium finishes since he joined them in 2017. He has helped them secure four consecutive World Constructors’ Championships in that time, with the team aiming for a fifth in 2021.
“This hasn’t been an easy process or a straightforward decision for us,” said Wolff. “Valtteri has done a fantastic job over the past five seasons and he has made an essential contribution to our success and to our growth.
“Together with Lewis, he has built a benchmark partnership between two team-mates in the sport, and that has been a valuable weapon in our championship battles and pushed us to achieve unprecedented success.
“He would absolutely have deserved to stay with the team, and I am pleased that he has been able to choose an exciting challenge with Alfa next year to continue his career at the top level of the sport; when the time comes, he will leave us with huge goodwill from every single member of the team, and he will forever be part of the Mercedes family.”
Wolff is delighted to be able to bring in long-time Mercedes-protégé Russell to the team next year, and he believes the former GP3 Series and FIA Formula 2 champion has what it takes to be a champion in Formula 1 as well.
“Looking forward to 2022, we are very happy to confirm that George will have the opportunity to take the next step in his career and join Mercedes,” Wolff said. “He has been a winner in every racing category – and the past three seasons with Williams have given us a taste of what the future could hold for him in F1.
“Now, it is our challenge together to help him continue learning within our environment and alongside Lewis, the greatest F1 driver of all time. I am confident that as their relationship grows, they will form a strong team and deliver for Mercedes on and off the track in the years ahead.”
Wolff says confirming their line-up for next season takes the weight off their shoulders so they can end the 2021 campaign with the focus on taking both titles for an eighth consecutive year.
“It’s a weight off our shoulders to have our plans for 2022 clear and announced; but now, our focus returns to the final nine races of this season and putting everything into our challenge for this year’s world championships,” he concluded.