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“While Bottas is very good in qualifying, he’s not when it comes to the races. Just look at that one Bahrain race that George did alongside him, George broke the DRS and drove away from him.

“I listen to ‘he’s apolitical’, and ‘it’s good for Lewis to have him there’, but I think you have to look at the bigger picture and the long term, and I’m sure that’s what they’re looking at.

“Russell and Lewis has got all the makings of Fernando and Lewis at McLaren in 2007. You can see the young pretender coming in against the established world champion and some fireworks there, which frankly for all us on the sidelines could be quite good to watch!”

Like Bottas and Russell on Thursday, team boss Toto Wolff was coy about the decision when speaking to Sky F1 in Spa – praising Bottas and the relationships formed, while also admitting there was “definitely an argument that we need to look to the future” due to F1’s “generation change”.

He was, however, candid when addressing Hamilton’s role in the process. Wolff revealed Hamilton has taken a big role in the talks over his next team-mate and is taking his “driver cap off” to help, while, most intriguingly, he also said the pair are in agreement over the choice.

“Lewis is a very important part of the team,” said Wolff. “He’s really not a driver, drivers are normally contractors, they come and then they maybe go for another opportunity.

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“Lewis has been with us for nine years, he has such an incredible importance, so he’s part of discussions.

“Him and I are brainstorming what’s best for the team, he’s taking the driver cap off, really because when he has the driver cap on we really both know what is good for him.

“But he’s also taking the team’s view, and we have been discussing all throughout the summer. And we have the same opinion

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