Jenson Button on prospect of George Russell vs Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes in Formula 1 2022
Sky F1's Jenson Button says "I'm really excited for that fight if it happens" with George Russell expected to join Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes in 2022; World champions staying tight-lipped but Toto Wolff admits Russell-Bottas call has been "super difficult" to make
Last Updated: 04/09/21 8:46am
Jenson Button believes the prospect of George Russell joining Mercedes for 2022 is "exciting" for the sport and will represent a fresh "challenge" for Lewis Hamilton.
Sky Sports understands that Russell has been told he will be a Mercedes driver next season.
Valtteri Bottas, the incumbent in the seat, is expected to join Alfa Romeo after Kimi Raikkonen announced on Wednesday he will retire at the end of the season.
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Mercedes and the two drivers have remained tight-lipped on the situation and have not confirmed anything yet. But Russell, whose career is managed by the manufacturer, did reveal on Thursday that he had been informed of where he would be driving next season ahead of last week's Belgian GP.
Speaking to Sky Sports F1 after opening practice at the Dutch GP, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said an announcement on their 2022 decision would be made once "all contracts are signed".
He also described the decision as "super difficult" and "probably the most difficult I have had to resolve in all my years in Formula 1".
But with Russell understood to be set to earn a promotion, thoughts are already turning to what will be a mouth-watering partnership between the 23-year-old rising star and 36-year-old seven-time champion Hamilton.
Sky F1's Button, who formed an all-British line-up with Hamilton at McLaren for three seasons, told Sky Sports News: "For George it puts more pressure on his shoulders because he's going into a team that has won multiple world championships, every championship in the hybrid era.
"For Lewis it puts pressure on his shoulders because he's never had a young hotshot come into his team that he's had to beat. It's a very different dynamic from what we've seen with British drivers before as team-mates, it was Lewis and myself, so I'm really excited for that fight if it happens."
Speaking on Sky F1, Button added: "It will be great for Lewis because it's another challenge for him."
Bottas is four years younger than Hamilton and has been in F1 approaching a decade, whereas Russell is 13 years the world champion's junior and considered one of the rising stars of the sport's new generation after just two-and-a-half impressive seasons at Williams.
Mercedes making sure 'everybody is in a good place'
Explaining the timeframes involved in the decision and eventual announcements, Wolff said: "You need to go through the process, do one step at a time, and then announce when there is something to announce.
"The process is to make sure that everybody is in a good place and all contracts are signed."
While Bottas has enjoyed personal and team success in his five seasons at Mercedes, claiming nine race wins, 17 pole positions and helping them maintain their run of Constructors' Championships in the hybrid engine era, he has not challenged Hamilton for the title over the course of the season in the way that predecessor Nico Rosberg, the 2016 champion, did.
Rosberg and Hamilton's relationship ultimately became fractious, putting strain on the team.
While tight-lipped on any decision about 2022, Wolff said were Mercedes to find themselves in the same situation again then lessons from the past would be put into practice.
"All personalities are different and also the situation between the two team-mates is the people and their past," said Wolff. "So it's something we have learned.
"I personally have learned from the Prost situation with Senna. Spoke to Prost about it. Then I was learning on the job with Nico and Lewis. I think if we were to run in a situation that we have drivers battling it out then I think we can benefit from the learnings.