George Russell: Valtteri Bottas comments on Lewis Hamilton point to big Mercedes change

George Russell is pushing for a Mercedes seat in 2022 with Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas expected to team in 2021.

George Russell impressed when standing in for Lewis Hamilton in the Sakhir Grand Prix and outclassed Valtteri Bottas. The 22-year-old looked like he would win on his debut for the team but for a pit stop calamity and a puncture dropping him down the field.

The seven-time F1 world champion has yet to be confirmed as his contract negotiations continue.

Bottas and Russell are both in contention to driver for the Silver Arrows in 2022 as the team look to continue their dominance.

The Finn struggled in 2020 but insists his Sunday race pace was better than in previous seasons.

“It was extremely close many, many times this year and even in the top three as well,” Bottas said. “We had good qualifying battles with Lewis.

“Obviously in the races more often, as the points show, he got the upper hand. But I can’t really say that qualifying was the biggest thing that I improved.

“I would say actually the race pace overall this year was a little bit better. But obviously, there’s always more work to do.”

“Of course I didn’t meet my targets for the year in terms of results,” he added.

But still now looking at the big picture, there’s so many positive things and so many more lessons learnt about driving and about myself and everything that I can again carry into next year and really turn that into a strength and try again.”

Bottas’ comments when finishing 124 points behind his team-mate are bold and may be cause for concern for Mercedes.

Although they won the constructors’ championship they may want a driver to push Hamilton more and push the team on as well.

In race battles, it was the F1 world champion who regularly came out on top.

Hamilton came from behind Bottas and Max Verstappen in Imola to win comfortably and he also dominated the Finn at the Turkish Grand Prix.

Hamilton overtook Bottas in the Portuguese Grand Prix and also destroyed him in Barcelona to assert his dominance.

Russell proved in Bahrain just how much talent he has and it won’t have gone unnoticed by Toto Wolff.

F1 is now on its winter break with the 2021 season starting with the Australian Grand Prix on Sunday, March 21.

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