Mercedes Formula 1 boss Toto Wolff says he will help Valtteri Bottas find a future in the championship if the marque opts to sign George Russell.
Bottas has raced for Mercedes since 2017 but is out of contract at the end of the current campaign.
Mercedes has outlined that it will either retain Bottas or promote George Russell for 2022, with no other candidate in contention to partner incumbent Lewis Hamilton.
Bottas’ relationship with Wolff stretches back before their partnership at Mercedes.
Wolff was one of Bottas’ advisors during his junior career and the pair were also at Williams together in the early 2010s.
Bottas is ostensibly a candidate at Alfa Romeo, run by Frederic Vasseur, for whom the Finn won the 2011 GP3 title at ART Grand Prix, while a straight swap with Russell at Williams has also been mooted.
“If we were to come to the situation that we wanted to give somebody else a go then it’s not only my relationship with him but also the responsibility that he has a great future,” said Wolff, speaking at the British Grand Prix.
“Because he deserves that. He has been the team-mate of the best Formula 1 driver of all time and that is not always very easy [circumstances in which] to shine, but he’s fantastic.”
Mercedes is set to make its choice during Formula 1’s summer break, which begins after next weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix.
Russell, a long-term member of Mercedes’ junior programme, has raced for Williams in Formula 1 since 2019, though has yet to score a point with the team.
His sole top 10 finish came at last year’s Sakhir Grand Prix, in which he substituted for Covid-19 positive Hamilton at Mercedes, classifying ninth after a long spell in the lead.