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Williams not ruling out Russell-Bottas swap

Williams not ruling out Russell-Bottas swap
© Reuters
Valtteri Bottas' future looks set to take centre stage this weekend at Paul Ricard.

Valtteri Bottas' future looks set to take centre stage this weekend at Paul Ricard.

More and more authoritative sources are reporting that the decision to replace the Finn with Mercedes junior George Russell next year is all but made.

RTL claims that Toto Wolff intends to kick off talks with Bottas in an official capacity this weekend ahead of the French GP.

"The final decision should then be made after the second race in Austria, to give him enough time to search for a new cockpit," the German broadcaster said.

However, there are even rumours that Russell could be fast-tracked into Bottas' seat before the end of the season, as Mercedes is worried about its current level of performance for the 2021 constructors' championship.

"You'd have to ask Toto," said Williams team principal Jost Capito when asked about that.

"We assume that George will be with us until the end of the season, and he would like that too. Everything else is speculation," the German insisted.

"We have a contract with him, which is valid. But you know that anything can be arranged if it is necessary. I have a good relationship with Toto," he said.

"He can call me at any time."

However, Capito thinks that if Wolff does make a driver change, it will wait until 2022.

"I think it's too early - he has two drivers already," he said. "We'll have to wait and see how things develop this year."

What is more likely is that, if Russell does arrive at Mercedes for 2022, a return to Williams for former team driver Bottas would appear to be the most logical move.

"At the moment I wouldn't rule anything out," said Capito. "It's all open."

Red Bull's Dr Helmut Marko, however, thinks a mid-season Russell-Bottas swap is definitely possible.

"It wouldn't surprise me," he said.

"Russell has been parked at Williams for long enough, and last year he proved how competitive he is in Hamilton's car. He can't put his career on hold for any longer."

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Valtteri Bottas in action during qualifying for the Portuguese Grand Prix on May 1, 2021
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Olympic medal table header
CountryGold medalSilver MedalBronze MedalT
United StatesUnited States19201352
Olympics flagOlympic Athletes from Russia11151238
Great BritainGreat Britain9101231
Today's Olympic highlights header

Sunday's key events

· The men's golf reaches its conclusion, with plenty of players still in medal contention. Home favourite Hideki Matsuyama is one shot off Xander Schauffele's lead, while Great Britain's Paul Casey is another shot further back and Tommy Fleetwood is also in the mix (11.30pm-8am)

· Great Britain have already made history in the BMX events in Tokyo, something Charlotte Worthington and Declan Brooks will be looking to add to in the women's (2.10am) and men's (3.10am) freestyle finals

· The final day of swimming action begins with the men's 50m freestyle final. Ben Proud could add to a medal-laden Games in the pool for Team GB so far, although he is up against USA's Caeleb Dressel, who is going for his fourth gold in Tokyo (2.30am)
· From sprint to endurance, Great Britain's second medal hope of the day comes through Daniel Jervis in the men's 1500m freestyle final (2.44am)
· Team GB will again be among the heavy favourites for gold in the last swimming event of the Games - the men's 4x100m medley relay final - having won the mixed event in a world record time on Saturday (3.36am)

· Already guaranteed at least a bronze, Pat McCormack takes part in the men's welterweight semi-final against Ireland's Aidan Walsh with a spot in the gold medal final at stake (4.03am)
· Ben Whittaker is also in the semi-finals of the men's light heavyweight and will be looking to continue Team GB's success in the ring (4.51am)

· There will be a surprise on the top of the men's tennis podium after Novak Djokovic missed out on a medal altogether. Alexander Zverev takes on Karen Khachanov in the second match on Centre Court at the Ariake Tennis Park (7am-2pm)

· Alison Young will be going for gold in the women's laser radial medal race (7.33am)

· Team GB's Max Whitlock will look to defend his 2016 Olympic title in the men's pommel horse final (10.41am)

· The men's high jump final includes GB's Tom Gale, although his chances of a medal look bleak (11.10am)
· So often the blue-riband event of the Olympics, the men's 100m final takes place as the world's fastest bid to be crowned Usain Bolt's successor. Three Brits have made it into the semi-finals (11.15am-11.32am), and the final looks wide open after an underwhelming display by favourite Trayvon Bromell on Saturday (1.50pm)

· Great Britain face India in the men's quarter-final (1pm)

> Today's schedule in full
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