Giedo van der Garde is predicting an unchanged line-up at Mercedes for 2022, believing that Lewis Hamilton won't want to have Mercedes' protege George Russell as a teammate.
With Mercedes yet to confirm whether it'll be Valtteri Bottas or Russell in the second cockpit in 2022, van der Garde is of the opinion that the team will err on the side of caution and retain the Finn.
"Yes, I really think he will stay," van der Garde told RacingNews365.com in an exclusive interview.
"He is doing well, the team knows. In addition, Hamilton, who is in charge, does not want a driver like Russell next to him. Because then he will have an Englishman next to him. If he doesn't perform well then, of course, the press and everyone is going to point at Russell."
"I don't see it happening so soon that Russell goes to Mercedes. Plus then you have two English drivers in the team."
Van der Garde believes that Russell's hunger, and his desire to lead, would result in a lack of harmony at Mercedes as the British driver isn't likely to be willing to settle to play a supporting role to Hamilton. Given Mercedes' recent experience with Hamilton's contentious relationship with Nico Rosberg, the Dutchman doesn't see any reason why the team would choose to risk that happening again.
"Two numbers one in a team will not work," he explained.
"Russell will immediately want to show how fast he is, and he really is. Only the team must also have a second driver. They have that now with Bottas and it has worked out well. Why would you change that?"