McLaren Racing boss Zak Brown believes Mercedes will run an all-new “killer” Formula 1 driver line-up for 2022 as part of its long-term future plans.
There has been plenty of speculation surrounding the future of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, with both signing one-year deals for 2021, signalling a possible change of direction for the reigning champions.
Although Hamilton reckons this year won’t be his last in F1, questions have been asked about his short extension and whether he could switch teams, or even call it a day of he wins a record eighth title.
Bottas meanwhile is at risk of losing his place in the team to youngster George Russell, who impressed last year when he filled in for Hamilton at the Sakhir Grand Prix.
Brown reckons both could be replaced, with Russell partnering Max Verstappen.
“I think you will see Max and George there in 2022,” he told the Daily Mail. “I think that is the obvious conclusion.
“Lewis wins title eight this year and is the winningest driver; they have a one-year deal with him. George is coming out of his deal and Max has a deal he comes out of.”
Verstappen signed a new deal which sees him through to 2023 with Red Bull, however it’s believed said deal contains an exit clause if he fails to win the title this season.
“You have Max’s experience and youth, you have George’s youth,” added Brown. “If I am Mercedes that is a pretty killer line-up for the next five years.
“The interesting thing is what do Red Bull do? That’s a harder one to answer. It’s tough for them. Everyone is locked down.”
Brown also explained why he wouldn’t replace one of his drivers if Hamilton became available, despite the headlines it would generate with Hamilton returning ‘home’ to his first F1 team.
“Where we are today, no, because we are really happy with Daniel [Ricciardo] and Lando [Norris] and have them under long-term contracts,” added Brown.
“You feel if you brought Lewis back now it would be for a one or two-year journey and we know we are not ready to compete for championships.”