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Russell: Seeing drivers names pop up on Toto’s phone quite funny

russell wolff hamilton mercedes f1

George Russell is amused by fellow drivers calling his Mercedes Formula 1 team boss Toto Wolff to lobby for the seat that Lewis Hamilton will vacate when he makes his sensational defection to Ferrari for 2025.

The seven-time F1 World Champion is ditching Mercedes, at the end of this season to don Red, after nearly two decades of being part of the Silver Arrows ‘family’ and all his successes, including the record 104 pole positions and 103 Grand Prix victories have come with Merc-power.

Now Russell’s team has an opening for a teammate and, while media have linked half a dozen or more drivers to the seat, is curious to see who he will be sharing a garage with next year.

Speaking to F1.com, regarding the identity of his next teammate Russell revealed: “It’s gonna be an interesting few months to see what happens but from my side, I’ve been teammates with arguably the greatest driver of all time for the past two years.

“I’ve got no concerns at all who lines up alongside me. I want to be tested against the very best and I feel that’s what I’ve had the last two years. Whether it’s an experienced driver or a young driver. I feel that personally, I’m in a great position to help push the team forward and go into this next chapter,” ventured the 26-year-old Briton.

In the wake of the Hamilton to Ferrari kickstarting a very early 2025 F1 Silly Season, whereby we will see a very different grid of F1 drivers this year, betting companies and bookies are even offering odds on who will replace the 39-year-old Englishman.

Betting odds available for who will be Russell’s teammate at Mercedes:

  • Andrea Kimi Antontelli – 5/4
  • Fernando Alonso – 6/4
  • Max Verstappen – 6/1
  • Carlos Sainz – 12/1
  • Esteban Ocon – 14/1
  • Valtteri Bottas – 25/1
  • Sergio Perez – 40/1
  • Oscar Piastri – 50/1
  • Daniel Ricciardo – 50/1
  • Lando Norris – 80/1
  • Charles Leclerc – 100/1
  • Mick Schumacher – 150/1

Russell: Ultimately the decision is with Toto and the Mercedes board

FILE PHOTO: Formula One F1 - Turkish Grand Prix - Istanbul Park, Istanbul, Turkey - November 15, 2020 Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton celebrates on the podium with team principle Toto Wolff after winning the race and the world championship Pool via REUTERS/Ozan Kose

As for his own preference, Russell said: “I think for any team it’s important to have good harmony between the drivers because that trickles down to all of the engineers, and the whole team, but ultimately the decision is with Toto and the board.

“We’ve already had a lot of conversations and I’ve been with Toto a lot this winter, so seeing the drivers’ names pop up on the telephone has been quite funny and even on my phone as well, I’ve had a few phone calls and and text messages.

“So it’s been quite interesting, but as a team, we’re in a really good opportunity and position to go into this next chapter, [after] so much success with Lewis and Mercedes,” added Russell.

Wolff’s take on the matter is: “I’m in no hurry for us to take a decision on drivers. I’ve been rushed in a hurry by Lewis. So, this time around I’m going to take it easy and evaluate the market.”

Mercedes are off to a bad start this year, way off the pace with their W15 proving to be unkind to both its drivers, as witnessed in the two opening races of the season.

This suggests Hamilton has timed his move at the right time (just as he did when he walked away from McLaren a decade or so ago) while that second Mercedes seat, coveted by so many, could be a ‘poisoned chalice’ so to speak. Time will judge that.

Big Question: Who should Mercedes hire to be Russell’s teammate to replace Hamilton?