British tabloid reported the Finn could be axed by the Brackley-based team in detriment of George Russell
By Yuri Coghe
Both Mercedes drivers have stepped up to address the rumours that the team is looking to replace Valtteri Bottas before the season ends.
A Daily Mail Monday report stirred up the talks, saying the Finn could be axed by the Brackley-based team in detriment of George Russell, currently ‘on loan’ at Williams. The news prompted a comment from Red Bull team principal Christian Horner, who said he would be surprised if Mercedes decided to do so.
Speaking before this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix, however, Bottas said he’s not worried about the rumours.
“I know I’m not going to be replaced in the middle of the season. As a team, we don’t do that. I have a contract for this year, and I think there’s only one team that does that kind of things in F1 and we are not that,” he said, while taking a jab at Red Bull.
The Austrian team has been known themselves for swapping drivers mid-season with its B team AlphaTauri, previously known as Toro Rosso. In 2016, Max Verstappen switched seats with Daniil Kvyat. In 2019, Pierre Gasly had to make room for Alex Albon to step in.
“So no pressure from my side and I know how things are. There’s always bulls*** around, that’s part of the sport,” said Bottas.
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Hamilton also reacted to the news and urged people to give his teammate a break.
“From what I’ve experienced from the relationship with Valtteri, I think he’s been an amazing team-mate,” said the seven-time world champion. “And if I’m being honest, I think we have the best line-up currently in terms of deliverables and the general knowledge in terms of moving our car forwards.”
“At some stage, it’s going to shift, it’s going to change. I’m not going to be here forever, Valtteri won’t be here forever – but right now I think we’ve delivered time and time again over the years and we continue to. Valtteri finished on pole for the last race and it’s only the fourth race. I think people need to give him a break and just let him continue doing what he’s doing,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton and Bottas have been teammates since 2017. The Briton is first in the drivers’ championship with 69 points, while the Finn shows up in fourth with 32.