Kimi Raikkonen’s announcement on Wednesday evening that he will retire from F1 at the end of the season is expected to set off a chain reaction and lead to a flurry of activity in the driver market in the coming days and weeks.

With the drivers facing the media less than 24 hours later at Zandvoort, the picture was made clearer thanks to some interesting revelations and suggestions about the state of play for next year…

Russell set for Mercedes

The most revealing detail from media day was supplied by George Russell, who admitted he was told where he will be driving next season prior to last weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix.

Following a lengthy pause, Russell confirmed: “Yes, I know where I’ll be driving next year.

“I’m not going to sit here and lie and not say the truth,” he added.

“The truth is there’s nothing to announce. But as I said, I’m aware of the situation of where I’ll be racing next year and I was informed prior just prior to Spa.”

While Russell is keen to keep things quiet for now, his positive demeanour and body language in recent weeks has been a suggestion of what now seems inevitable.

And his comments on Thursday are the biggest indication yet that the 23-year-old will partner seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton to form an all-British line-up at Mercedes, as has been heavily speculated for months.

During an earlier press conference, Hamilton gave a ringing endorsement of Russell and made it clear he would happily welcome the “incredibly talented driver” as his new teammate.

A Finn for a Finn at Alfa Romeo? 

Russell’s expected arrival at Mercedes will signal the end of Valtteri Bottas’ five-year journey at the German marquee.

Bottas teased that he knows where he will be racing next year, responding to that exact question: “Maybe I do, maybe I don’t.”

The 32-year-old went on to add that he is “happy” and “excited” about what his future holds and said he wants a multi-year contract as part of his next deal, having previously received yearly extensions at Mercedes.

And it would seem that Bottas’ next destination will be Alfa Romeo, with the Swiss-based outfit set to replace one Finn with another.

Alfa Romeo team principal Frederic Vasseur was spotted in Mercedes’ hospitality at recent races, which tallies with reports that Bottas was its first choice for 2022 should he become available.

With Raikkonen revealing he made to his decision to leave F1 over the winter, it is likely he gave Alfa Romeo plenty of notice to start planning for a future without him.

Speaking about what he is looking for, Bottas made it clear he still has a point left to prove before he joins his compatriot in hanging up his F1 helmet.

“It needs to be challenging, it needs to be exciting, it needs to be fun, in an atmosphere I’d really enjoy working in,” he explained.

“I think those are really the main things I’m looking forward. Like I said before, I still have quite a few years in Formula 1 and I really want to continue in Formula 1, for sure.”

Questions remain over second Alfa seat

Who will occupy the second seat at Alfa Romeo for next year is less clear, with uncertainty remaining over Antonio Giovinazzi’s future.

Despite turning in some consistent performances in 2021, there are conflicting reports about the 27-year-old Italian’s position at the team. Some suggest he is set to lose his seat, while Italian media outlets have claimed he will be retained for a fourth successive season.

“Unfortunately I don’t know yet,” Giovinazzi responded when asked if he was able to shed any light on his situation. “We will see but in the end, it’s not my decision.

“All I can do is just push, doing well, having a good result and then we see what will happen. But so far I don’t have any news.”

Newly-crowned Formula E champion Nyck de Vries has been linked with the seat, as has Sauber’s record-breaking superstar Theo Pourchaire, though 2022 may be a year too early for the 18-year-old to graduate from Formula 2.

Alpine’s leading juniors Oscar Piastri and Guanyu Zhou, who sit first and second in the 2021 F2 standings respectively, have also been mooted as potential candidates given both seats at the Anglo-French squad are locked out for the foreseeable future.

Plenty of choice for Williams

Should Russell leave, Williams finds itself with a long list of potential options to replace the Briton.

Ex-Red Bull driver Alex Albon is thought to have jumped to the top of the team’s shortlist, with Williams reportedly lining up Albon as its number one choice to take the seat vacated by Russell.

Last weekend, Red Bull boss Christian Horner revealed his side was pushing to find Albon a seat for 2022 following confirmation that Sergio Perez will remain Max Verstappen’s teammate.

The likes of de Vries, Nico Hulkenberg, Daniil Kvyat and the aforementioned Alpine juniors have also been linked to the Grove outfit in recent weeks.

Williams F1 team boss Jost Capito dropped a huge hint in Belgium that Nicholas Latifi will stay for 2022, adding it “looks like” the Canadian will be rewarded for his improved performances with a contract extension.

“To be honest I haven’t had the proper, direct communication yet in terms of next year,” Latifi said of his situation at Zandvoort.

"I think once this triple-header is done I’ll probably have a sit down with Jost and the bosses and go from there. But my ambition is to stay with the team.

"I think with the trajectory I’m on, improving my performances race-by-race, I’m getting more and more optimistic of that, but nothing is done until it’s done.”

Status quo for the rest 

The rest of the grid looks settled for 2022, with AlphaTauri expected to continue with Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda despite both drivers being coy when asked for an update about their futures at Zandvoort.

“Nothing has been official yet but I mean it looks pretty clear and I guess we should have more news in the coming weeks,” said Gasly.

Asked if he was confident of staying in F1 next year, Tsunoda replied: “50%.

“It has not [been] a consistent season and I think I have to have more consistency to achieve that and that’s what I’m building up step-by-step.”

There will be no changes at Aston Martin, with Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll’s respective continuations a formality.

Meanwhile on Thursday morning, Haas team principal Guenther Steiner indicated that an announcement confirming Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin for 2022 was on the way.