Rumors continue to fly out of Formula 1 that George Russell is definitely set to replace Valtteri Bottas at Mercedes for 2022 and beyond.
Bottas, who has been Mercedes No. 2 to Lewis Hamilton since coming over from Williams before the 2017 season, is having an uncharacteristic--OK, dismal--time of things in 2022. He's sixth place in the championship standings after back-to-back runner-up finishes in 2019 and 2020.
Bottas has failed to score points in three of the last five races. The last time he's had as many as three races outside the top 10 in any five-race stretch was 2016 when he raced for Williams.
"We would like to keep George," new Williams team principal Jost Capito told Sky Deutschland. "But we all know that Mercedes will make the decision."
Indeed, Russell is a closely Toto Wolff-aligned Mercedes junior who is expecting the call to be made "by the end of the summer break at the latest."
"My attitude is to get it all wrapped up as soon as possible. That is in everyone's best interest," the Russell said.
Even Mercedes' closest rival—Red Bull—thinks Russell replacing Finn Bottas, who has been on one-year contracts since 2017, is the logical step.
"They can't hold it off any longer, otherwise the (driver) program no longer makes sense. Even if Hamilton won't be happy," Red Bull consultant Helmut Marko told f1-insider.com.
It appears that the logical move for the Bottas, 31, is that he will simply trade places with 23-year-old Russell at Williams. Bottas entered Formula 1 with Williams in 2013. As for Red Bull, that doesn't appear to be an option as a possible Bottas landing place should should be be shown the door.
"Bottas doesn't need to call us," Red Bull's Marko said. "There is no space here. Actually, I can only imagine that he swaps with Russell. I think Williams will be the only option for him."
It is rumored that Mercedes might announce Russell's impending arrival at his home race at Silverstone on July 18.
Esteban Ocon, meanwhile, is expected to have his Alpine contract renewal announced at his own home race this weekend at Paul Ricard. Oxon is expected to remained paired with four-time champion Sebastian Vettel next season.