A candid Valtteri Bottas says it “wouldn’t look good” if he was defeated this weekend in the Sakhir GP by his one-off Mercedes teammate George Russell.
Russell – a Mercedes protégé – is being loaned by Williams to the German outfit to substitute for Lewis Hamilton who has been sidelined by a positive COVID-19 test.
Considered as one of F1’s brightest young talents, expectations are high for Russell to make the most of his big break and deliver a good performance.
But on the other side of the Mercedes garage, when asked about his new teammate’s prospects, Bottas said he hadn’t really given it much thought.
“It’s difficult to know what to expect from George in terms of performance,” said the Finn.
“He knows the team well, but also it’s a different car that he has been testing and lots of new things. And also, I don’t really know what to say to that question.
“I haven’t thought [about] it in that sense and if I have to give some kind of answer I say if he beats me, yeah for sure it wouldn’t look so good on me, if I have a normal race and if he beats me fair and square.
“But I am not a person who thinks on that side of things. I try to turn things into a motivation and through positive thinking. That’s my mindset for this weekend.”
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Bottas denied that this weekend’s inner team rivalry equated to a showdown between the two drivers for a 2022 drive with Mercedes.
“I know that you like to speculate things and create drama and ‘showdowns’ etc…” he said. “But I doubt George thinks that way and at least I don’t.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for George, a great opportunity to learn a lot and to show what we can do with the team.
“And from my side, as a racing driver of course you always want to be ahead of your teammate – whether it’s Lewis Hamilton or George Russell or anyone else, it doesn’t matter.
“And I also have a job to do for the last three races of the season – I have my own motivation, which is trying to win the remaining races.
“That’s obviously for me the only goal – and trying to maximise all the learnings I can for next year and end the season on a positive way that could hopefully help me [at the] start of next year.
“I have a contract for next year, I have clear targets for myself for next year – the team as well – so for me everything is really simple. No pressure from my side.”
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