Wolff: Bottas won’t lose 2021 Mercedes seat to Russell

Toto Wolff has put a stop to speculation about fast-tracking George Russell into the Mercedes Formula 1 in 2021 by formally confirming that Valtteri Bottas will retain his seat.

Wolff: Bottas won’t lose 2021 Mercedes seat to Russell

Russell’s superb performance in last weekend’s Sakhir GP led to suggestions that Mercedes might try to engineer a swap that would see Bottas return to Williams next year and the British driver make a permanent step up.

However, Wolff stressed that he remains loyal to Bottas, and made it clear that Russell’s time will come.

“He's going to be in our car,” said Wolff. “I'm hereby confirming it. We have a contract with Valtteri. 

"He's going to race next year. You need to kick me quite hard in a sensitive zone for me to ever lose my loyalty. And I am loyal to my two race drivers.

“In the same way, I'm loyal to our junior drivers. George did a phenomenal job last weekend. He deserves to be in a great car one day. He has a contract with Williams for another year.

“They have been very flexible and accommodating in having George, giving George to Mercedes this other weekend, and everything is going to go its way. But calmly, and in a structured way.”

Wolff admitted that Bottas had been put in a difficult position over the Sakhir weekend, with Russell “having nothing to lose” and making such a huge impact on his one-off appearance.

“I can relate to Valtteri’s situation,” said Wolff. “Because you’re having this tremendously fast teammate who has won seven world championships, and Valtteri has shown really great performances.

“He won the first race in Austria, and he’s been on pole several times, and he should have won more races if it wasn’t for red flags or punctures.

“And then losing it again when bad luck was really part of your campaign feels miserable, and in that respect, I think that a driver can sometimes then slip into a bubble where you feel that things are going against you.

“Last weekend was all around George. George had nothing to lose, and Valtteri had nothing to gain.

“In that respect, we had a good talk, an intelligent talk between us. It wasn’t like a eureka moment that suddenly I’ve been talking to him, I can just relate to his situation, and we’ve decided that we want to talk to each other more.”

Read Also:

Their renewed rapport was reflected in qualifying when Wolff took the unusual step of talking directly to Bottas on the radio, saying “All you have, Valtteri.”

“Every driver is different,” said Wolff. “And we have strict intercom protocols that we follow. And I remember when I was a racing driver, I was annoyed by the guys that leaned over into the cockpit and shook my hand before I got going.

“And, in that respect, I will always and the team will always adjust to the drivers modus operandi. And that's why I've never been on the radio unless we have a critical situation in the race.

“But when I discussed with Valtteri about how we could improve our communication, he said that he felt like a more open discussion or more open communication, even while it's being in the car is something that he would like to entertain.

“And I said to him, ‘Are you sure because I don't want to interfere into you driving the car?’ He said, ‘No, no, I'm actually up for it.’ And I've been thinking about it for a while.”

shares
comments

Related video

McLaren announces stake sale in Racing arm

Previous article

McLaren announces stake sale in Racing arm

Next article

Leclerc explains Vettel Abu Dhabi helmet tribute gesture

Leclerc explains Vettel Abu Dhabi helmet tribute gesture
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Drivers Valtteri Bottas , George Russell
Teams Mercedes
Author Adam Cooper
How Brabham’s one-hit wonder was boxed into a corner Prime

How Brabham’s one-hit wonder was boxed into a corner

The Brabham BT46B raced once, won once, then vanished – or did it? STUART CODLING reveals the story of the car which was never actually banned…

The changes Barcelona needs to provide a modern-day F1 spectacle Prime

The changes Barcelona needs to provide a modern-day F1 spectacle

Formula 1’s visits to Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya over recent years have been met with familiar criticisms despite tweaks here and there to the track to improve racing. With the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix largely going the same way, proper solutions need to be followed to achieve F1’s wider targets

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
Spanish Grand Prix Driver Ratings Prime

Spanish Grand Prix Driver Ratings

Often described as Formula 1's laboratory, the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona gave the clearest demonstration yet of the pecking order in 2021. And it's the key discrepancies from that order which illuminate who is excelling, and who needs to hit the reset button.

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
How Red Bull's deja vu set Hamilton on the winning path in Spain Prime

How Red Bull's deja vu set Hamilton on the winning path in Spain

An aggressive first corner move from Max Verstappen appeared to have set the Red Bull driver on course for victory in the Spanish Grand Prix. But canny strategy from Mercedes - combined with the absence of Red Bull's number two from the lead group - allowed Lewis Hamilton to pull off a demoralising reversal

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
The Barcelona practice times that prove Red Bull has hidden pace Prime

The Barcelona practice times that prove Red Bull has hidden pace

Lewis Hamilton led the way in Friday practice for the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix, but there was one major encouraging sign for Red Bull. However, making good on that gain will require Max Verstappen to avoid repeating a mistake that left him well down the FP2 order...

Formula 1
May 7, 2021
Why McLaren doesn’t doubt Ricciardo can escape his ‘dark’ place Prime

Why McLaren doesn’t doubt Ricciardo can escape his ‘dark’ place

Three points finishes from as many starts represents a decent opening innings on paper, but Daniel Ricciardo has endured a tough start to his McLaren career - only magnified his teammate's excellent form. Yet both he and the team have good reason to expect a turnaround soon.

Formula 1
May 6, 2021
What needs to “change” for Red Bull is ending Verstappen’s errors Prime

What needs to “change” for Red Bull is ending Verstappen’s errors

OPINION: Going up against the dominant force of Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton was always going to demand the best from Red Bull and Max Verstappen. But after making a couple more errors during the Portuguese Grand Prix, the Dutch driver showed there's a small gap he still needs to close in the 2021 Formula 1 title fight.

Formula 1
May 5, 2021
The "subtle" Red Bull upgrades that kept it in the Portugal F1 mix Prime

The "subtle" Red Bull upgrades that kept it in the Portugal F1 mix

Red Bull's Portuguese Grand Prix fortunes were decidedly second best to Mercedes', but the result skews the potential that the team had at Portimao. With a new set of updates, the team looks good going forward into the rest of 2021's spicy F1 competition

Formula 1
May 3, 2021