George Russell says he will be a free agent next year, in yet another sign that he may be lining up to become Lewis Hamilton’s next teammate.
In Monaco on Wednesday, the buzz in the paddock was about Lando Norris’ two-year contract extension at McLaren.
“I didn’t want to waste time talking to other teams. The team trusts me and I trust the team, it’s that simple,” the impressive 21-year-old said.
Some were surprised by the early announcement, but another driver pushing for clarity about his future is Valtteri Bottas – who has raced under the cloud of his single-year Mercedes contracts since 2017.
“The sooner you can decide your future, the better,” the Finn said on Wednesday.
“I’ve had situations when I signed a contract quite early, but also when very late signings meant the negotiations seriously interfered with my performance.”
However, Bottas insists he hasn’t thought about 2022 yet because he is “focused on racing”.
But he said the August break is the “natural period” for contract talks.
“Honestly, I’m in no hurry. There are major changes next year and if the team has the ability to choose its drivers, so much the better,” said Bottas.
“For now I am completely focused on the season. The time to talk about contracts is not yet.”
What is clear is that Williams driver and Mercedes junior George Russell, 23, is champing at the bit to take over from 31-year-old Bottas.
“It’s a good position to be in,” Russell said on Wednesday when asked about his free contract status at the end of the year.
“At the same time, stability and continuity are important – we can see that already with the drivers who are new to their teams,” the Williams driver added.
“Whichever team I am with next year, I would prefer to be there for a number of years.”