January 15, 2021

It wont look good if Russell beats me “fair and square” – Bottas – GPfans

https://www.gpfans.com/en/articles/59970/it-won-t-look-good-if-russell-beats-me-fair-and-square-bottas/

Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas has conceded it would “not look good” for his career if Lewis Hamilton’s replacement George Russell beats him in Bahrain this weekend.

Bottas has failed to match up to Hamilton this season, winning just two races compared to his team-mate’s 11, but this weekend he will be marked against Russell after the seven-time champion was sidelined following a positive Covid-19 test.

The Finn, who has been with Mercedes four years, has signed a one-year deal to race for the team again in 2021. Russell, who is highly rated but has raced 36 times for Williams without scoring a point, is eyeing up the drive for 2022.

Asked what it would do for his career if Russell was able to out-perform him this weekend, he responded: “Quite a punchy question. I haven’t really thought about it.

“It’s difficult to know what to expect from George in terms of performance. He knows the team well, but also it is a different car to the one he has tested, lots of new things.

“I haven’t thought about it in that sense. If I have to give some kind of answer, then I’d say if he beats me, sure it wouldn’t look so good on me if I have a normal race and he beats me fair and square.

“But I am not a person who thinks on that side of things.”

Russell has been helped up the motorsport ladder by Mercedes’ young driver programme and is the first from that pool to get to race for the world champion team in F1.

This weekend’s race, and potentially the following one a week later in Abu Dhabi if Hamilton cannot return in time to compete, could be seen as a mini showdown for a future Mercedes seat.

But neither Bottas, nor Russell, were drawn into such an idea, insisting that getting the upper hand in one or two races is nothing that Mercedes will focus on when it comes to selecting its driver line-up.

Bottas added: “I know you like to speculate things and create drama and showdowns, but I doubt George is thinking that way and at least I don’t.