George Russell’s move to Mercedes next year is expected to be confirmed in the near future, triggering further developments in the F1 driver market for 2022.Alexander Albon and Formula E world champion Nyck de Vries are expected to join the grid next year as a result of Russell’s arrival at Mercedes.
Russell will replace Valtteri Bottas, who as RaceFans revealed previously is set to join Alfa Romeo. However the Swiss-run cars are expected to have two new occupants next year.
Kimi Raikkonen, the elder statesman of the F1 grid, will head for retirement after 19 years of competition in the sport’s top flight. In an unexpected development, his team mate Antonio Giovinazzi is also expected to be shown the door.
Giovinazzi’s replacement is understood to be Nyck de Vries, who clinched the Formula E title in Germany earlier this month. The arrival of the Mercedes-backed driver, who won the 2019 Formula 2 championship, will ensure the three-pointed star has another young racer on the F1 grid following Russell’s promotion. Alfa Romeo team principal Frederic Vasseur has close ties to his opposite number at Mercedes, Toto Wolff.
Ferrari Driver Academy member Giovinazzi is expected to retain his links to the team. He has been tipped to become their third driver and take a role in its recently announced Le Mans Hypercar programme.
De Vries was previously tipped to take Russell’s empty seat at Williams. However RaceFans understands that seat will go to Albon, who missed out on a chance to return to F1 next year when the team extended Sergio Perez’s contract. Williams CEO Jost Capito has links to Red Bull from his time running Volkswagen’s World Rally Championship programme.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said last weekend Albon would continue his development role with their team unless they found a race seat on the F1 grid for 2022.
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