Mercedes has been weighing up who out of Bottas or current Williams driver Russell should partner seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton for next season.

In his post-qualifying media call, Wolff twice responded “yes” to direct questions asking whether Mercedes had already picked who will race for the team in 2022, though he stressed the decision will not be made public yet.

Russell starred in a wet qualifying to outqualify Hamilton and claim a shock front-row starting position for Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix but Wolff insisted the Briton’s latest impressive performance would not impact the choice.

“Today doesn’t make any difference,” Wolff said. “We know what we have with George.

“He’s been outstanding in the junior drivers, who has been outstanding in a Williams, he has bene outstanding with us in Bahrain.

“If I needed to have that ultimate proof then something would have been wrong. But the decision is also considering other factors. Let’s see.”

Wolff indicated that Mercedes would like to ensure both drivers have a seat secured for 2022 before it makes an announcement.

Bottas has found himself linked with potential vacancies at both Williams and Alfa Romeo amid increasing suggestions he will lose his spot at Mercedes next year.


“If it would have been an easy decision we would have made it earlier as we know what we have with Valtteri and we know what we have with George,” Wolff said.

“And both of them deserve being looked after in the best possible way as both of them are part of the family and we hold them up high.

“There is pros and cons, with any driver line-up, but at the end there is no such thing as a perfect discussion. We just need to manage the situation well with whichever driver is not going to be in a Mercedes next year and make sure there is an exciting programme.”

Wolff had plenty of praise for Russell’s “brilliant” lap that saw him provisionally on pole position until Red Bull’s Max Verstappen narrowly beat him with a last-gasp effort.

“At La Source, he gained so much time to everyone else as he’s the only one who’s on the apex,” Wolff explained.

“So that is a fact of driving and also having the right set-up and the tyre temperatures in the window.

“The way Williams has approached qualifying was very clever. Risky but clever, with two consecutive laps and the first one defensive, so they took a risk and won. He was very committed through Eau Rouge and the car also looks very good through the rest of the lap.

“But it needs a driver to maximise that or exploit the full potential of the package, or overperform the package, and all that came together today, and you saw a brilliant lap from a brilliant young driver.”