MERCEDES Team Principal Toto Wolff reportedly has four options to choose from to replace Valtteri Bottas should the Finnish driver be sacked.
The 31-year-old is under pressure after just four races into the Formula One 2021 World Championship where he sits in third spot.
During Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix, Bottas ignored team orders as he refused to let team-mate Lewis Hamilton pass – forcing the Brit to risk an overtaking manoeuvre.
When asked afterwards why he made life difficult for Hamilton, who went on to win the race, Bottas admitted he “could have let him by earlier” and added “I’m not here to let people by”.
His remarks will now be addressed by Wolff, who will remind him over his responsibilities to the team.
It has even been claimed that Bottas could be axed before the end of the season, with Mercedes said to have ‘lost faith’ in him.
One team source told the Mail: “There is some unrest at the factory about Valtteri.
“He is not up to it, which was made clearer by the job we saw [George] Russell do in Bahrain.”
And Williams star Russell is said to be one of four drivers that Mercedes could look to turn to, according to the Express.
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The Brit’s contract is up for renewal at the end of the year, and he even deputised for Hamilton at the Sakhir Grand Prix last year.
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It has also been claimed that Red Bull ace Max Verstappen could be eyed up, with the Dutch driver having two years left on his current deal.
Though it appears unlikely he will switch teams having been part of Red Bull’s team since 2014.
And he has set his eyes on winning the world championship with Christian Horner’s team in their bid to end Mercedes’ seven-year dominace.
Other potential options include Alpine’s Esteban Ocon, who forfeited his role as the Mercedes’ junior driver to join Renault on a two-year deal.
Commenting on the Frenchman, Wolff remarked: “Ocon is in the second year of a two-year contract with Renault or Alpine F1 this year, Russell is with Williams this year.
“So there are some variations for 2022. But until then our full support goes to Valtteri and Lewis.”
The Express have then stated that Mercedes-EQ’s Stoffel Vandoorne – who currently races in Formula E – is an option.
Vandoorne, 29, is also a test driver for Mercedes’ F1 team, with the Belgian highly-rated by Wolff.