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Who will drive for Mercedes in 2022?

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With the news that Lewis Hamilton has signed a new one year deal at Mercedes for 2021 all 20 drivers are now secured for the season ahead. However, in 2022 many key drivers are out of contract, below we look at all the drivers that are out of contract at the end of the 2021 season and take a look at who has a chance at getting one of the top seats in the paddock.

Lewis Hamilton

Many were surprised that Lewis only signed a one year deal at the team, but Toto Wolff has said that this was only because they ran out of time to negotiate anything longer than the single year. Nevertheless it means the 7-time (or potentially 8 time by the end of the season) world champion will once again have to strike a new deal for 2022. If Lewis expresses a desire to continue in the sport I imagine Mercedes will keep him. Him and Toto Wolff have formed a winning combination over the years, and Lewis is unquestionably on of the most talented drivers on the grid. If Lewis wants to extend his contract and a deal can be reached, I find it hard to see a scenario where he isn’t racing for the silver arrows in 2022.

Valtteri Bottas 

Throughout his entire Mercedes career Valtteri has only ever had one year contracts at the team, so the situation he’ll find himself in at the latter end of 2021 is nothing new to the Finn. Despite never mounting a serious title challenge Valtteri has proven himself to be a top level driver, challenging Lewis weekly and proving the perfect second driver for the team. Despite this, Toto Wolff has recently acknowledged that the team has reached a point where it needs to start considering young drivers for its prized race seats. Frankly, Bottas needs to have the season of his life to keep his seat in 2022, but I do feel he has the potential to do so. If Lewis decides to retire, I think the team will surely keep him for that bit of experience in the car, but that does not change the fact he needs a stellar season, expect a fiery Valtteri in 2021!

George Russell  

George Russell’s Williams contract expired at the end of 2021, so he is available heading into the 2022 season. The Mercedes young driver is unquestionably one of the brightest talents on the grid, with many calling for him to have a Mercedes seat in 2021. George’s performance in Sakhir showed his skills in the Mercedes are something special, despite having never driven the 2020 car before, not actually fitting in the car properly and wearing boots that were a size to small. It is surely only a matter of time until he gets a seat in the Merc, and I imagine that 2022 will be his year, the question just remains who’s seat he will be taking.

Although the three above see like the most logical choices, lets have a look at who else might be on Mercedes radar for 2021, should both drivers decide to leave.

Lando Norris

Norris’ Mclaren contract ends at the end of the season, and he has proved his exceptional quality as a driver throughout his time with the team so far. The most likely thing for Norris is seemingly to stay with the papaya team, as he is their ‘wonderkid’ and their car is improving year on year, a good sign heading into the new 2022 regulations. Despite this Mclaren and Mercedes do have very strong links (especially with Mercedes supplying engines for the team in 2021) so I’m sure Lando is on the books of Toto Wolff. Imagine a George and Lando pairing at Mercedes. Wow.

Esteban Ocon

Mercedes and Ocon have a good relationship, as the driver was their test and reserve driver in 2019, with Toto Wolff acting as his manager. To be in with a shot at a Mercedes drive Ocon needs to easily outperform Fernando Alonso at Alpine in 2020. He was outperformed by Danny Ric at Renault so he hasn’t yet proved himself as a top level driver worthy of a top-level team.

Sergio Perez 

Perez to Red Bull seemed unlikely, but Perez to Mercedes seems even more unlikely, but never say never. He’s only on a one year contract at Red Bull, and I feel he’s in a lose lose situation there. Underperforming means Red Bull will get rid of him, over performing means Red Bull will be unhappy he’s challenging Max Verstappen, and want to get rid of him. I am a big fan of Checo, so feel he definitely deserves this chance, but I can’t see him going to Mercedes.

Pierre Gasly

Yes I know Pierre is part of the Red Bull programme, but I feel he needs to leave this programme to give his career the best chance. Returning to Red Bull would be career suicide for Gasly, Renault seems the most likely destination for the Frenchman, but him and Ocon do not get along in the slightest, so I can’t see that happening too soon. Pierre has proven himself as a top level racer, and he deserves a top seat, but is Mercedes a step too far to soon?

Max Verstappen

Max isn’t out of contract at Red Bull until 2023 but it is the worst kept secret that there is a release clause in his contract, and Toto Wolff is a big admirer of the Dutchman. If Max sees Mercedes as his best chance in the new regulations, I think he is the man Mercedes need to maintain their dominance after the Hamilton era.

Other drivers are out of contract, such as Kimi Raikkonen, but the chance of him going to Mercedes is next to nothing!

Who do you think will be in the Mercedes in 2022 and beyond? Let us know on Formulanerds Facebook.

 

Image: Express.co.uk

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