Montoya: Bottas needs quick Mercedes F1 decision to ease pressure

Juan Pablo Montoya believes that a quick decision about Valtteri Bottas’ Mercedes Formula 1 future would ease the pressure on him and help improve his relationship with the team.

Bottas is out of contract at the end of the 2021 season, and faces competition for his seat from Mercedes junior George Russell, who has spent the past three seasons racing for Williams.

Mercedes has made clear that it will not rush into a decision about its line-up for 2022, while Bottas has sought to ensure thoughts about his future do not distract him. 

Bottas has struggled in the early part of the 2021 season, finishing a race no higher than third and slipping to fifth place in the drivers' championship, scoring less than half of teammate Lewis Hamilton's points total.

A difficult end to the race in France saw Bottas lose third place in the closing stages, having fumed over team radio about the decision to stick to a one-stop strategy. 

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Speaking about Bottas' future, ex-F1 driver and two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Montoya felt that a quick decision from the team would help improve their relationship and ease the pressure on the Finn on-track.

"I think if they went to him and told him, you're out, I think it would get a lot better, whether he's going to be out or in," Montoya told Motorsport TV Live. "Whatever they decide they need to do, they need to do it quickly. Because at the moment, he's in a really bad situation where they're not telling him yes or no, just keep doing your job, and if you do your job, you might get a seat.

"That's the worst situation to be in, because you want to go as fast as you can, but you don't want to make any mistakes.

"That combination is terrible, because the pressure of screwing up week after week, it gets higher, and when things don't go well, then the relationship with the team is not the best either.

"Either way, whether they commit to him or not, I think the pressure is going to stop."

George Russell, Williams

George Russell, Williams

Photo by: Jerry Andre / Motorsport Images

Russell is a free agent at the end of the season when his three-year deal with Williams comes to an end, making him an option for Mercedes to promote into its senior team.

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The British driver has impressed throughout his time with Williams despite the team's struggles, and showed his potential in a Mercedes car in Sakhir last year, stepping in after Lewis Hamilton tested positive for COVID-19.

Montoya said that Russell was "the obvious answer" to replace Bottas should Mercedes let him go, but was curious to see how he might fare up against Hamilton.

"I think the job he did before was outstanding," Montoya said. "We'll see what happens when Russell has got to match up to Lewis. He might look really good in practice like Bottas does, and go into the race, and Lewis goes and beats him by 20-30 seconds.

"How Russell's head reacts to that, and how he can react to that and overcome that, that's going to be the key to success."

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